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Bending back

August 19, 2019


How do I feel when I hear or read the word REFLECTION? How does it relate to our overall theme “community” – and where do I see a connection?


First of all, at least in the German language, I have to consider how to spell it correctly. In German the noun spells “REFLEXION” – and not “REFLEKTION”, as is often assumed. It is derived from the Latin term “reflexio”, meaning “bending or throwing back”. In both meanings, in the physical sense (reflection of light) as well as in the sense of (self-)critical reflection, the German word is spelled with the letter “x”. It is very often misspelled, though I don’t know exactly how often. It is a special word indeed in the German language.

Now, in the next two months, we will deal with reflection.


Reflection in physics refers to the reflection of waves at plane boundaries where the characteristic impedance [wave resistance] or the refractive index [angle of refraction] of the propagation medium changes. The most well-known reflection is the mirror image.


As a philosophical term “reflection” describes scrutinizing and comparative thinking.


Here I can recognize a link between both meanings of the term. Do I not cast an examining and self-critical (philosophical meaning) glance in the mirror (physical law) every day? I do not only refer to the mirror image (“how do I look?”), but to an insight into myself.

I think that is what everybody does. Some more, the others less. Some are more self-critical and take the blame for their failures, for others self-critical analysis is difficult, and still others nearly do not manage it at all. And everybody lives in a community ... I am keen to see where this journey takes us at the end of these two months.


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