Hegel, Hegel, Hegel. One of the classic 19th-century German thinkers but, while others are popularly remembered for a wide variety of ideas (Nietzsche has a canon of ideas he’s still quoted on by the pretentious snobs who read and recite his works, but his aphorisms would be perfect for Twitter!) Hegel, however, is mainly remembered for one idea: the Dialectic. This leads us to the two subjects to tackle today: what is the Hegelian Dialectic and how would that inform Hegel as a PPC, to see if he would be a good PPC or not?

The simplified (very much simplified) version of the Hegelian dialectic is that to figure out what the truth is, you need to examine an argument, and then the opposite argument, and then figure out how to reconcile them to find the truth. In his words, at least the English translations of them: you develop a thesis; then an antithesis; and then a synthesis of them together. Pretentious College Freshman 101 am I right?

At first glance, you’d think that this insight would lead you to be a great PPC. How are your keywords or ads or placements or targeting or any aspect of your campaign or account doing? You come up with a thesis, then you come up with the smart opposite argument, and you then figure out the right balance between the two. How could this not be a great thing?

Indeed, building on this there is a second reason why he might be a good PPC: to attribute a classic observation to Picasso (to whom I’ve often heard it attributed, but he may or may not have said it–the truth is always hidden from us), “Good artists borrow, great artists steal”. Hegel’s argument, as important as it is, is a clear restatement of both one of the main concepts of classic Logic and classic Rhetoric (it’s far from original) and it’s also common sense. Does anyone really think that before Hegel burst onto the scene, people didn’t think that, to understand an idea, you have to think through its opposite as well? Those same ancients who were so stupid they conquered empires, built buildings so huge that modern technology can’t figure out how they did it, and they couldn’t figure out common sense 101?

Hegel, in other words, borrowed, err, stole this idea; and this would make him a great PPC because a lot of the best campaign configurations and ideas are really ideas borrowed that you’ve seen others do, or heard about, or read about. Doing any art well involves substantial borrowing. We can even frame this more positively: remember another likely apocryphal quote, attributed to Newton: “standing on the shoulders of giants”. And PPC is an art, like any other.

Despite all this, I’d come out on the side that Hegel likely wouldn’t be a great PPC. Why? Think about the dialectic: he’s got stuck going back and forth and back and forth forever, without really concluding as to what to do.

Yes, with that keyword–we can always get more data. Yes, you can always debate the pro‑s and con‑s of this campaign or that one. But eventually, you have to make a decision, and run with it vigorously and vehemently.

But when you’re really investing your time and energy in the debate, and not the action–you turn into Hamlet. Who dies. A good PPC has just enough thought, and then a lot of action, and Hegel, for all his pro‑s (and then his con‑s and both synthesized together, fused inside his brain and his writings!), errs on the side of too much thought.

So, Hegel, we’d have to pass over you for this job opportunity. But you should keep up with your philosophy, we think you’ll make it as a philosopher one day!