Hegel was a German philosopher who has influenced more thinkers than most anybody else. His work is still debated to this day and one can always take comfort knowing that nobody really understands 100% of Hegelian thought.
One of the ideas that Hegel is known for is his exploration of dialectics. Here is one among the 10 dialectics in Hegel’s Philosophy of History is this one:
- Thesis: One ruler + one territory (Oriental despotism)
- Antithesis: Many rulers + many territories (Greco-Roman democracy and aristocracy)
- Synthesis: One ruler + many territories (Prussia, or Hegel’s Germanic monarchy)
In the movie The Prestige there is a quote that perhaps sums up what the Hegelian dialectic.
Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course…it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.
Using movies to explain philosophical thinking is a really groovy idea to me, which makes me want to share this amazing clip starring Slavoj Zizeck on They Live.