Presuppositions and the GDR

A discourse analytical moment: Reading about a survey of perceptions of the GDR. Very critical study of how the “east Germans” are oh so nostalgic about the GDR and simply won’t accept the view of these west German scholars that the free, democratic FRG was the much superior state. The study led to a good deal of controversy in its time (2007).

One of the questions in the survey (Agree/Disagree as possible answers):

Sich in einer Gemeinschaft oder Gruppe unterzuordnen wie in der DDR, ist für mich grundsäzlich wichtiger, als meine eigene Persönlichkeit zu entwickeln.

To subordinate oneself to a community or group, as in the GDR, is more important to me than developing my own personality.

And here, once again, analysing presuppositions comes into its own. The explicit statement, to be supported or negated, is “X is more important to me than Y”.

It takes a lot more work to negate the presuppositions. Indeed, within the frame of the survey it is not possible to question the presuppositions.

Presupposition 1: In the GDR one subordinated oneself to the community/group.

Presupposition 2: This subordination hindered the development of one’s own personality.

Well, as long as we know what our “common knowledge” is.

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