Last night, a shocked global audience watched Germany defeat and humiliate host nation Brazil in The 2014 World Cup. Can the German philosopher Hegel offer insights to the astonishing happenings?
Searching for sense after the game [July 8th, 2014] I remembered the ideas of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. The philosopher remains influential for his system of thought which considers the nature of contradictions and how they become integrated.
Triumph and its contradiction
So Germany whacking in seven goals suggests the presence of triumph and its contradiction, disaster.
Or maybe it was through the energized performance of the German team and the defeated efforts of the Brazilians which produced the 7-1 scoreline. Some would describe what happened in terms of momentum and demoralization.
Any which way, Hegel invites us to seek a synthesis emerging from the thesis and its antithesis in seeking understanding.
Demythologizing the game
Without synthesis the story has no satisfactory closure. A focus on a crushing victory and defeat risks the stabilizing of beliefs of superiority and inferiority in cultural terms. It may be better to recognize the events are in a limited time and space. We should beware of y wider stereotypes, of German efficiency and Brazilian creativity crippled or destroyed by the loss of key players.
At a stretch, I can just about reach a Hegelian synthesis in which the story of the specific and spectacular game tonight is demythologized. It is important to appreciate the power of myths and myth making.
It is not destiny that will permit Germany to win the 2014 World Cup, it will be the interactions between two teams which have each earned their places in the final.
Note for fellow pedants
See this beginner’s guide to Hegel for an introduction to his logic. Note also that the three step process of thesis, antithesis and synthesis is widely used, but was never specifically characterized in these terms by Hegel.
What happened next …
Holland beat Brazil in the decider for third place no-one wants to play.
Germany and Argentina play a close final, and a brilliant goal by Gotze wins the World Cup for Germany and illuminates a drab game.
Scolari and his coaching team resign before they receive any more public humiliation.
Germany, spiritual home of Hegelian philosophy, welcomes its heroes with promises of redoubled efforts to retain world supremacy in Football.
Triumphalism, Humiliation, Rebirth. The cycle of thesis, antithesis and synthesis continues for Brazilian German football.