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The Duality in Greek and Germanic Philosophy

Joannes Richter

Abstract
The Germanic dual form “við”, respectively “wit” (dual: “we two”) may be compared to Homer's
dual form νώ (νῶϊ) (dual: “we two”).
In contrast another Germanic word “wit” (“knowledge”, “wisdom”) may be compared to νοῦς or
νόος (“Nous”, wisdom).
A third Germanic word “Wiᚦ” (“with”) switched from a controversial, dissociating symbolism to a
cooperative, associating symbolism.
The Greek words νώ (dual: “we two”) and νοῦς (“Nous”, wisdom) seem to be correlating to the
Germanic dual form “við” or “wit” (dual: “we two”), respectively “wit” (“knowledge”, “wisdom”)
and “Wiᚦ” (from: “without” → “with”).
This paper suggests the possible correlation between the Greek philosophers Homer (800 BCE),
Hesiod (700 BCE) and Heraclitus (500 BCE), who described Eris (English: duel; Dutch: twist,
tweedracht; German: (Zwist, Zwietracht) as a powerful tool for the basic struggle between two
participants.
The dual character of these duels has been lost in English languages, but still may be identified in
the Dutch words: twist, tweedracht and German: Zwist, Zwietracht.
In the philosophical duels between Homer, Hesiod and Heraclitus the youngest (Heraclitus)
ultimately explains the true character of Eris.
Around 500BCE the traders also communicated the philosophical ideas of Heraclitus (such as the
basics of the Eris (strife, duel)) between the Germanic center “Pyrene” (~ Heuneburg) and the
Greek trading stations such as Athens.
The duality in the Greek and Germanic philosophy

The basic correlation between Greek and English


The Germanic dual form “við”1 respectively “wit” (dual: “we two”) may be compared to Homer's
dual form νώ (νῶϊ) (dual: “we two”). In contrast the alternative Germanic word “wit”
(“knowledge”, “wisdom”) may be compared to νοῦς or νόος (“Nous”, wisdom).
The Greek words νώ (dual: “we two”) and νοῦς (“Nous”, wisdom) seem to be correlating to the
Germanic dual form “við” or “wit” (dual: “we two”), respectively “wit” (“knowledge”, “wisdom”).

The duality in the philosophy of Heraclitus


In his philosophical fragments the Greek philosopher Heraclitus describes Eris (strife, duel) as a
neutral tool, which is a universal tool in balancing two antipodes.
The word duel is based on the duality of two antipodes. A duel is an arranged engagement in
combat between two people, with matched weapons, in accordance with agreed-upon rules. On a
large scale the battle between two powers and strife is justice in forming things:
(62) We must know that war is common to all and strife is justice, and that all things
come into being and pass away (?) through strife.2

Even war (polemos) is needed to balance the powers of evolution:


(44) War is the father of all and the king of all; and some he has made gods and some
men, some bond and some free. R. P. 34. 3

Originally concepts such as Eris (English: strife and discord; Dutch: twist, tweedracht; German:
(Zwist, Zwietracht) have been considered as a negative element by Homer, but Hesiod (750 - 650
BC) considers Eris as a positive power, whereas Heraclitus (c. 535 – c. 475 BCE) considers Eris as
a neutral element.[68]4.
The overview illustrates the sequence of a negative validation as a thesis, followed by a positive
validation as an antithesis and ultimately the synthesis of “neutrality”:

Stage Validation Greek philosopher Estimated era


Thesis Negative influence Homer ~ 800 – 750 BCE
Antithesis Positive influence Hesiod ~ 750 - 650 BCE
Synthesis Neutral influence (in balancing two antipodes) Heraclitus ~ 535 – 475 BCE

1 The varying validation of Eris (strife, discord, duel) in Greek philosophy

1 In Icelandic language the pronoun of the 1st person plural við had been used as a dual form: “we two”
2 Fragment 80 (Fragments of Heraclitus at Wikisource) – source: #60 in Page:Early Greek philosophy by John Burnet,
3rd edition, 1920.djvu/151
3 Fragment 53 (Fragments of Heraclitus at Wikisource) – source: #44 in Page:Early Greek philosophy by John Burnet,
3rd edition, 1920.djvu/150
4 Claes 2013, p. 127; Verhoeven 1993, p. 122; Prier 1976, pp. 63-64.
Heraclitus is dissatisfied with Homer and Hesiod, which may be checked in the following
fragments:
• (119) Homer should be turned out of the lists and whipped, and Archilochos likewise. R. P.
31. 5
• (16) The learning of many things teacheth not understanding, else would it have taught
Hesiod and Pythagoras, and again Xenophanes and Hekataios. R. P. 31. 6
These rebukes may prove Heraclitus' superiority in validating nature's philosophical mechanisms.
Greek philosophers such as Homer (800 BCE), Hesiod (700 BCE) and Heraclitus (500 BCE)
describe their validation of Eris (English: strife and discord; Dutch: twist, tweedracht; German:
(Zwist, Zwietracht) as follows:
• Homer (800 BCE) described Eris as a controversial, dissociating power,
• Hesiod (700 BCE) praised and appreciated Eris as a cooperative, associating power,
• whereas Heraclitus (c. 535 – c. 475 BCE) considers Eris as a neutral tool.[68]7.

5 Fragment 42 (Fragments of Heraclitus at Wikisource) – source: #119 in Page:Early Greek philosophy by John
Burnet, 3rd edition, 1920.djvu/155
6 Fragment 40 (Fragments of Heraclitus at Wikisource) – source: #16 in Page:Early Greek philosophy by John Burnet,
3rd edition, 1920.djvu/148
7 Claes 2013, p. 127; Verhoeven 1993, p. 122; Prier 1976, pp. 63-64.
Germanic philosophy
Germanic philosophy developed the same concepts of the duel, which is based on a similar dual
concept as in the fragments of Heraclitus.
In German and Dutch the duality is still found in the words: Zweikampf, Zwietracht and Zwist,
respectively tweedracht and twist.
In English the “Two”-marker for the duality has been lost and the duel (for the Greek Eris-concept)
had been based on the archaic Latin/Greek-based word duellum for “bellum”8.

The antipodal powers of Eris in Germanic languages


The same controversial, dissociating and the antipodal cooperative, associating powers of Eris have
been defined in various Germanic “WIᚦ”- and “TWI”-cores, which are based on the letters of the
initial word “WIT” of the Withorc-/Futhorc-alphabet.
Germanic languages still do contain a great number of “WIᚦ”-, “TWI”- and “WIT”-related words,
which probably all refer to the deity “TIW” (“*Tiwaz”). This paper documents some of the ideas for
interpreting the duality in Greek and Germanic Philosophy.

The triad at the (Futhorc/Wuthorc) runic alphabet


The three words TIW, WIT and TWI may consist of the first three runic elements in the keyword
ᚠᚢᚦ (Futh”) of the runic alphabet Futhorc/Wuthorc. The reversed interpretation of ᚠᚢᚦ (Futh”) is
ᚦᚢᚠ (“Thuw”)
The first character ᚠ of the Futhorc/Wuthorc alphabet may be interpreted as a Digamma (“W”,
uppercase: Ϝ, lowercase: ϝ, numeral: ϛ). The second character may be varying as “U”, “Y” or “I”,
whereas the third character represents the “thorn” ᚦ (“th”).
Eventually these letters ᚠᚢᚦ may be interpreted as the most important symbols (T, W and I in the
archaic roots TIW, WIT and TWI) of Germanic philosophy. Most of these roots may still be
indentified in the Germanic vocabulary.

The duality in the words TIW, WIT and TWI


In Germanic languages duality may be identified in a great number of words. Especially the words
TIW, WIT and TWI may be considered as potential roots for dual symbolism and a link to the
Greek philosophical concepts.
The number of permutations of the characters T, W and I is limited and basically only a few
combinations result in real words TIW, WIT, TWI, WTI, IWT (IUT), ITW (ITU) for Germanic
languages.
TIW has been understood as the superior god (*Tîwaz or *Teiwaz, respectively “Tue” in Tiwesday,
respectively Tuesday).

8 late 15th century: from Latin duellum, archaic and literary form of bellum ‘war’, used in medieval Latin with the
meaning ‘combat between two persons’, partly influenced by dualis ‘of two’. The original sense was ‘single combat
used to decide a judicial dispute’; the sense ‘contest to decide a point of honour’ dates from the early 17th century.
In the reversed reading of TIW the dual form WIT (“we two”) may be interpreted as the dual form
for the personal pronoun of the 1st person, symbolizing the “Zwitter9”-creature “man” (“Mannus” in
Tacitus' “Germania”). The first “Mannus” might have been created as an image of the
hermaphroditic “Tiw” (“Tuisto”?).
The duality of “man” and “Tuisto” may have been symbolized by rearranging the runic symbols T,
W and I to the permutation “TWI”. In English the duality in the word “twi” is identified in the
equivalent words “two” and “twain”.

9 According to Wackernagel (quoted in Grimm's Teutonic Mythology) Tuisco may have been a hermaphrodite god.
→ Wackernagel in Hpt Ztschr. 6, 19 retains Tuisco = duplex, and explains it as zwitter, two sexed, just as Lachm. makes
tuisc = bimus, two years old; and Mullenhoff agrees with them 9, 261. In that case Tuisco would have nothing to do
with Ziu, and Tacitus must have indicated the marvellous hermaphrodite nature. (Page 842)
The word WITh
In English the word “Wiᚦ” originally belonged to the dissociating category but switched to the
associating category.

The English word “with” (“Wiᚦ”)


In English language the word “with” (“Wiᚦ”, which is correlating to both the dual form “wit” and
“wit” as wisdom) transformed from a cooperative (associating) to a (controversial) dissociating
symbol around the Norman conquest (1066). This transformation had been restricted to the English
language and does not occur in Dutch or German.
According to the Wiktionary entry the word “with” originally described an adverse attribute wiþer
(“against”), which shifted to the current attracting attribute “with”. In the following overview of the
Wiktionary entry with I marked the with-words yellow and the opposite mit-words blue:
From Middle English with, from Old English wiþ (“against, opposite, toward”), a
shortened form of wiþer, from Proto-Germanic *wiþr- (“against”), from Proto-Indo-
European *wi-tero- (“more apart”); from Proto-Indo-European *wi (“separation”).
Cognate with Old Frisian with (“against, again”), Old Saxon with (“against, again”),
Dutch weder (“again”) and weer (“again, opposite”), Low German wedder (“again,
against, opposite”), German wider (“against”) and wieder (“again”), Danish ved (“by,
near, with”), Swedish vid (“by, next to, with”). In Middle English, the word shifted to
denote association rather than opposition, displacing Middle English mid (“with”), from
Old English mid (“with”), from Proto-Germanic *midi, cognate with Old-Frisian mith
(“with”), Modern Frisian mei (“with”), Old Norse með (“with”), Icelandic með (“with”),
Dutch met (“with”) and German mit (“with”). 10

At the same time (1066) English language may have lost the duality markers in some dissociating
expressions such as discord and doubt, which had been conserved in Dutch (tweedracht, twijfel,
twist) and German words (Zwietracht, Zweifel, Zwist) for controversial expressions.

The Antipodes Miᚦ and Wiᚦ11


Germanic languages seem to have focused on the concept of two antipodes, which may be
identified as associating versus dissociating symbols.
Both associating and dissociating processes are elementary concepts in human societies. For
matrimonial couples marriage is an associating phase. Simultaneously both parental families both
suffer the loss of the couple's partners from their homes. As a rule each associating event may also
evoke a dissociating event. Eventually each marriage will also be hit by a disruption.
Basically these associating and dissociating forces are encoded in languages by M and W, which in
a graphical sense are vertically mirrored letters.
In fact the M is a genuine singular letter symbolizing a bipolar (male & female) couple “Man” and
W (as a “double U”) originally may also be considered as a pair of two identical letters U
respectively V.

10 Source: Wiktionary-entry with


11 The Antipodes Miᚦ and Wiᚦ by on Scribd and The Antipodes Miᚦ and Wiᚦ
The analysis of the symbolism of both letters M and W turned out to be rather complex.
• First of all the English language complicated the concept of two antipodes by redefining the
associating and dissociating elements “Mid” and “With” to “With” respectively “Mid”. This
transformation took place around the Norman conquest (1066).
• Additionally the letter W also seems to have been associated with the Digamma (" Ϝ" or its
modern lowercase variant " ϝ"), which had been lost in several languages for example in the
Greek transformation of Woinos in Oinos (“wine”), the transformation of Wilusa to Ilion
(“Troy”) and the Nordic transformation of Wodan to Odin (the sky-god).
In English the word “With” (Wiᚦ) became a cooperative (associating) symbol around 1066.
Simultaneously the removal of the “TWO/TWI”-roots from the dissociating roots may have been
triggered by this linguistic transfer of values.
The prepositions “met”, “mid”, ”mit” symbolize cooperative phases, whereas the
corresponding antipodes “weder”, “wiþ”, “wider” originally symbolized “withstanding”
phases.
In modern English (and compared to German and Dutch) “wiþ” symbolizes a controversial
status, which probably has been caused by a loss of philosophical principles in the
alternating phases of cooperation and decoupling.
Without is defined as a word expressing lack or want of something (opposite of with),
attested from c. 1200. In use by late 14c. as a conjunction, short for without that.
category English Dutch German remarks
definition
→← mid met mit cooperative (associating) symbols before 1066
Mid (Miᚦ) symbolizes the associated couple (“we
two”).
↔ Wiþ weder wider controversial (dissociating) symbols before 1066
Wid (Wiᚦ) symbolizes the dissociated couple (“we
two”).
→← Wiþ met mit Wiþ as a associating symbol from 1066 onwards
↔ Wiþout Without is an opposite of with (from c. 1200).
2: Categorizing the Antipodes Miᚦ and Wiᚦ
Categories of duality in TWI-words
Duality may be categorized as: (1) dissociating (discord, doubt), (2) neutral (numbers) and (3)
associating (twine, twist), which may be illustrated in the following table.
The English words for dissociating expressions seem to have lost their “TWO”-roots, which for
example may have been replaced by “DIS” in discord and dispute (These samples have been
marked in blue).
The associating expressions (marked green) all based on enforcing powers by intertwining several
smaller strands together. Associating and dissociating elements also may have been applied in social
contacts. Basically conflicts may be understood as dissociating powers, but according to Heraclitus
the conflicts are useful, neutral tools in order to balance nature's equilibrium and a survival of the
fittest partner. These neutral elements are marked yellow.

category English Dutch German remarks


definition
↔ discord Tweestrijd Konflikt Dissociating expression
(also dubio, Zweikampf Zweikampf (Duell, only for 2
dilemma) persons)
↔ controversial tweeslachtig zwiespältig Dissociating expression
↔ discord tweedracht Zwietracht Dissociating expression
↔ doubt twijfel Zweifel Dissociating expression
↔ dispute twist Zwist Dissociating expression

neutral twelve twaalf Zwölf literally "two left" (over ten)


neutral twice tweemaal zweimal
neutral twig twijg Zweig
neutral twilight schemer Zwielicht The transition day ↔ night. Usually
Zwielicht is a negative expression
neutral twin tweeling Zwilling two similar or close entities
neutral Hermaphrodite tweeslachtig zwitterhaft From: Hermes and Aphrodite

→← tweed (twill) tweed Tweed derived from twill-from Old English


twilic (“two-threaded”)
→← twine Twijn Zwirn Doubled thread
tweern
→← intertwine verweven verflechten to twist together with something else
→← To twine twijnen zwirnen composed of twisting two or more
smaller strands or yarns together
→← To twirl twirlen zwirbeln to twirl one's beard
→ mixture of to twist and to whirl
→← To twist draaien zwirbeln To turn
3: Categorized TWI-words in dissociating (↔), neutral dual) and associating (→ ←)
The information-channel between Greece and Pyrene
In order to complete this study of the duality in Greek and Germanic philosophy I decided to invest
some effort to sketch the information-channel between Greece and Pyrene.
Pyrene is the city in which intensive contacts between Greek and Celtic traders had been dated at
several centuries BCE. The city had been described by the Greek historian Herodotus as follows:
In the mid-5th century BC, the Greek historian Herodotus (Book 2.33) made a brief
passing reference to a Celtic city called by the Greek "Pyrene": "For the Ister flows
from the land of the Celts and the city of Pyrene through the very middle of Europe..."
Since the Heuneburg is roughly in the right location and was a major regional centre
just before that time, it is possible that it is the settlement referred to by that name.[27] 12

The Heuneburg is a prehistoric hillfort by the river Danube in Hundersingen near Herbertingen,
between Ulm and Sigmaringen, Baden-Württemberg, in the south of Germany, close to the modern
borders with Switzerland and Austria.
It is considered to be one of the most important early Celtic centers in Central Europe. This trading
station is located at the shores of the upper Danube river, from where the river may be sailed on
small boats toward the Black Sea and the Greek harbors.
Of course the traders also communicated the philosophical ideas between the Heuneburg and the
Greek trading stations such as Athens. The may have used different vocabularies, but around the
time of Heraclitus (500 BCE) the most relevant topics (the basics of the Eris (strife, duel)) may have
been shared by the Germanic nobility.
The importance of the Heuneburg, like that of other contemporary centres, is closely
connected with its location in relation to several important trade routes. Placed just
north of the Alps and on the Danube, the site had access to important land routes across
the mountains from Italy and Southern France (especially the Greek colony of
Massalia), and, by river, to the Balkans and the Black Sea. It was involved in long-
distance trade between northern and southern Europe, involving luxury goods (as found
in the burial mounds) and probably wine from the south, and amber, metals, as well as
probably perishables like leather and fur, from the north.[24] The Mediterranean (Greek
and/or Etruscan) influence on the Heuneburg is especially strongly reflected by its
mudbrick fortification and the newly found ashlar masonry.[26] 13

Around 500BCE the traders also communicated the philosophical ideas of Heraclitus (such as the
basics of the Eris (strife, duel)) between the Germanic center “Pyrene” (~ Heuneburg) and the
Greek trading stations such as Athens.

12 Heuneburg - Pyrene?
13 Heuneburg - Trade, contacts with the Classical World
The link between the duals νώ (νῶϊ) and “wit” (“we 2”)
The Germanic dual form “við”, respectively “wit” (dual: “we two”) may be compared to Homer's
dual form νώ (νῶϊ) (dual: “we two”).
In order to identify the link between νώ and “wit” (dual: “we two”) I studied the etymology of to
know, which as a spoken word is approximated by <Noo>.
• know (v.) is documented to stem from PIE root *gno- "to know."
Once widespread in Germanic, the verb “to know” is now retained there only in
English, where it has widespread application, covering meanings that require two or
more verbs in other languages (such as German wissen, kennen, erkennen and in part
können; French connaître "perceive, understand, recognize," savoir "have a knowledge
of, know how;" Latin scire "to understand, perceive," cognoscere "get to know,
recognize;" Old Church Slavonic znaja, vemi). The Anglo-Saxons also used two distinct
words for this, the other being witan (see wit (v.)).

The PIE root *gno- ("to know", “to wit”) may also be cognate to νόησις (“Noesis”, also “Noese”,
from νοεῖν, to think, to wit), which is linked to νώ (dual: “we two”).
The links Νοεῖν → to wit (Witan) and νώ (νῶϊ) → “wit” (dual: “we two”) may be explained by
transitory Greek ↔ English aids “to know”, respectively “*noi14” (“we two”: dual “nos”) for which
traces of dual forms may be found in the noi-variants of the Mediterranean personal pronouns and
in the Savoyard dialects.
In Italian Noi is the first-person plural pronoun “ we “ whereas noialtri is Used especially to
distinguish a small group from everyone else.
Greek Transitory constructs Germanic (English)
Greek ↔ English
to think, Νοεῖν - Noesis to “know”, Witan, to wit (v.)
to wit *gno- ("to know") from *gno- ("to know")
dual: νώ (νῶϊ) (→ Homer) noi, noialtri (Mediterranean; “we”) “wit” (dual: “we two”)
“we two” (archaic Greek dual: *noi (“we two”: dual “nos”)
“we two”) muoi (“we two” in Inari Sami)
moai (“we two” in North Saami15
4 Explaining the links Νοεῖν → to wit (Witan) and νώ (νῶϊ) → “wit” (dual: “we two”) by adding
the transitory constructs to “know”,respectively *noi (“we two”: archaic dual for“nos”)

14 The Art of Designing Languages


15 The Uralic Languages von Daniel Abondolo ; quoted in The Sky-God, Adam and the Personal Pronouns
Conclusions

Comparing Greek and Germanic philosophy


The analysis of Greek and Germanic vocabularies indicate the Greek and Germanic philosophy had
been concentrating on both:
• associating cooperation between partners and
• dissociating duels between two persons, which in Greek had been defined as “Eris”
(English: strife, discords).
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus described these duels “Eris” as useful tools for nature's evolution.

The origin of the words TIW, WIT and TWI


The three words TIW, WIT and TWI may be identified as the first three letters T, W, I of the runic
alphabet Futhorc/Wuthorc.

The roots for associating and dissociating powers


According to the archaic vocabulary of the Germanic languages the roots TWI and ZWI indicate
both associating and dissociating powers for the Germanic philosophy, which may be related to
TIW and WIT.

The absence of dissociating TWI-expressions in English


In English the words for the “TWI”-permutation result in twelve, twice, twig, twilight, twin, twine,
tweed, twill, twine, twirl, twist. None of these words seem to characterize dissociating expressions
such as discord, controversial, doubt, dispute.
In other languages (German and Dutch) the dissociating expressions (such as Dutch: twist,
tweedracht; and German: Zwist, Zwietracht) have been defined as “TWI”-, respectively “ZWI”-
cores.

The associating TWI-expressions in English


In English the dissociating expressions normally do not contain TWI-roots. In English language the
associating symbols refer to the weaving-methods such as twining and twist,

The “Number 2”-expressions in Dutch and German


In Dutch and German language the dissociating, associating and neutral TWI-elements usually are
based on TWEE-, respectively ZWEI- or ZWIE-roots,

The ZWIR-expressions
In German the associating TWI-expressions usually are based on the root ZWIR, whereas the
dissociating expressions mostly are based on “ZWEI” or “ZWIE”.
The Germanic “withstanding”-expressions
The Germanic prepositions “met”, “mid”, ”mit” symbolize cooperative phases, whereas the
corresponding antipodes “weder”, “wiþ”, “wider” originally symbolized “withstanding” phases.
The Germanic prepositions “weder”, “wiþ”, “wider” refer to the dissociating duels, which
according to Heraclitus had to be categorized as useful for balancing nature's evolution.
For this usefulness the English preposition “wiþ” at the time of the Norman conquest (1066) may
have been transformed from a dissociating to an associating category.

The information-channel between Greece and Pyrene


Around 500BCE the traders also communicated the philosophical ideas of Heraclitus (such as the
basics of the Eris (strife, duel)) between the Germanic center “Pyrene” (~ Heuneburg) and the
Greek trading stations such as Athens.
Contents
Abstract.................................................................................................................................................1
The duality in the Greek and Germanic philosophy ............................................................................2
The basic correlation between Greek and English...........................................................................2
The duality in the philosophy of Heraclitus ....................................................................................2
Germanic philosophy............................................................................................................................4
The antipodal powers of Eris in Germanic languages.....................................................................4
The triad at the (Futhorc/Wuthorc) runic alphabet..........................................................................4
The duality in the words TIW, WIT and TWI..................................................................................4
The word WITh................................................................................................................................6
The English word “with” (“Wiᚦ”)...............................................................................................6
The Antipodes Miᚦ and Wiᚦ .......................................................................................................6
Categories of duality in TWI-words................................................................................................8
The information-channel between Greece and Pyrene.........................................................................9
The link between the duals νώ (νῶϊ) and “wit” (“we 2”)...................................................................10
Conclusions.........................................................................................................................................11
Comparing Greek and Germanic philosophy................................................................................11
The origin of the words TIW, WIT and TWI.................................................................................11
The roots for associating and dissociating powers........................................................................11
The absence of dissociating TWI-expressions in English.............................................................11
The associating TWI-expressions in English.................................................................................11
The “Number 2”-expressions in Dutch and German.....................................................................11
The ZWIR-expressions..................................................................................................................11
The Germanic “withstanding”-expressions...................................................................................12
The information-channel between Greece and Pyrene..................................................................12

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