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Guest Viewpoints

A Capodistrian Approach to the Ukrainian Issue

January 19, 2023
By Professor Argyris Nicolaidis


We are used to history as an ordering of events, a presentation of stages, a collection of chronologies: the end of an empire, the birth of a current, the collapse of a system, the dominion of a conqueror. Sometimes though, when we study a word, an idea, a proposal, another sort of history emerges. This form of history crosses the time, displays hidden similarities, invites novel compositions, suggests a new topography and indicates links among different epochs. Actually, we are in the pursuit of the undivided time, the search of a unified kairos (καιρός).

Who needs C.S. Peirce?

Charles Sanders Peirce, a most original mind, made important contributions in science, philosophy, semiotics and notably in logic. He invented and elaborated a novel system of logical syntax, namely relational logic. Starting from two subjects Sj and Si, we may define a relation SiRSj connecting the two subjects. Different relations can be composed, giving rise to a whole network of connected links. A network of relations may represent different entities: a network of logical propositions, a mathematical theorem, a description of a natural system, the registration of historical events, a reference to governing rules.

A distinctive approach to logic is offered by Aristotle. Aristotle, supporting his choice for a foundational nature of logic, suggested the existence of A and its negation ¬A. Thus the whole world is split into two opposing entities. C.S. Peirce on the other hand leads us into another direction: the coexistence of the differences, the acceptance of the multiplicity and the diversity. It seems it is worthy to follow Peirce’s suggestions.


The year 1815 is distinct. It separates revolutionary Napoleonic times from the Restoration epoch. Capodistrias offered a critical assessment of the transition period. Born into one of the oldest noble families of Corfu in 1776, he studied in Padua (medicine, philosophy, law). Motivated by republican and liberal views, he was closely involved in events leading to the creation of the Ionian republic in 1800. Capodistrias’ ideas were reformist, suggesting a definite alternative to the ‘Metternich system.’ He entered the Russian service in 1809. Emperor Alexander considered Capodistrias as a very commendable man, by virtue of his enlightenment. He choose the young Greek diplomat for a delicate mission to Switzerland in 1813 and 1814.
Capodistrias rejected any bids for hegemony on the part of the great powers and he advocated a new European order. His approach to the Swiss issue is highly original. He went beyond the traditional attitude of creating fixed governing rules, expressed by a monarch. Inspired by reformist and liberal ideas he supported the notion of a democratic state composed of cantons. Each canton has its own language, history, tradition. Thus a new state is born, accepting the difference, the otherness, the alterity, the diversity.
Somehow it appears that a hidden dialogue is developed on themes like unity and multiplicity, diversity, otherness, accepting the difference, state and society. The participants: Socrates, Capodistrias, Peirce.


Vladimir I, Grand Prince of Kiev, was baptized Christian at Dnieper’s riverbank. We may claim with certainty that the introduction of Orthodox Christianity in South-Eastern Europe amounts to the birth certificate of civilization in that region. The common religion solidified the Ukrainian-Russian presence and averted the Mongol’s attacks. Another important factor is geography. The immense Russian landscape necessitates a direct unified control of the entire land. The historical account is quite convincing: Tsarism, Soviet regime, post-Soviet period. A recent effort to establish uniformity is advanced by making an appeal to the concept of ‘Russian World.’ The response was an enhancement of the Ukrainian national feeling and the involvement into anti-Russian activities.

Can we anticipate the range and the goals of a war? Thucydides senses that an imbalance of power might increase the likelihood for a conflict. It would be useful, following Capodistrian ideas, to explore the possibility of an equilibrium, an open democratic society which accepts the difference and the diversity. Regarding Ukraine, we may mention discrete steps along this direction

· A unified Ukraine
· Unified Ukraine is expressed in different modes, respecting the diverse linguistic and cultural traditions.
· Political freedom. Political formations are represented at various levels.
· Ukraine advances and enhances the collaboration and the dialogue among different organizations.
Creating this new Ukraine is a great challenge.

Argyris Nicolaidis, graduate studies in Theoretical Particle Physics at McGill University, Montreal, postgraduate studies at Laboratoire de Physique Corpusculaire, Collège de France (Paris), since October 1980, is professor of Theoretical Physics at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. His scientific work is centered on Quantum Chromodynamics, neutrino astrophysics, strings and black hole dynamics, extra dimensions of space, relational logic, DNA codification. He is involved in the dialogue Science – Philosophy – Theology. Email: [email protected].


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