In this presentation, the individual’s decision to reveal a secret will be analysed as the outcome of an inner struggle involving a number of psychological and social forces. In each case of secret keeping, the very same “energies of perseverance” are pitched against the “yielding energies” (Georg Simmel). These energies are competing in (and perhaps also for) the head, heart or soul of the secret keeper, and they will be shown to emanate from the value he or she ascribes to information, cohesion, reputation, sanction, distinction, premium and confessional urge. The image of the Tug-o-War will then be used to examine a number of such contests, whereby it will emerge that the strength of any one of the energies more often than not depends on the relative strength of another, be it mutually reinforcing or cancelling each other out. The main contention of the presentation will be that while the ethical questions involved in secret revelation may be very difficult; the mechanics of betrayal are not.
Martin Schaad is Assistant Director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam. He studied history, economics, and philosophy at Stirling University before completing a D.Phil in modern history at St Antony’s College, Oxford in 1996. He was also awarded an MBA at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh in 2005. His publications include Bullying Bonn: Anglo-German Diplomacy on European Integration, 1955-61 (2000).