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October 25, 2010


At last! A new blog post!
And of course I find nothing better to do than to criticize your translation of the second clause of the first part of the aphorism:
"andere glauben wir wenigstens hingen von uns ab" - I would translate: "of others [i.e. other representations] we at least believe that they depend on us". Not very elegant, I have to admit. So perhaps even better: "others we at least believe to be dependent on us"?

The lack of punctuation is not helpful, but I think the placement of "wenigstens" counts against your reading.

Zoller notes the oddness of the sentence in a footnote and makes "hingen" the basis for discrimination: “Mach's
reading [which is the same as yours] is improbable considering the occurrence of the subjunctive form, "hingen," which indicates
a subordinate clause following the verb, "glauben."” Which does make it harder to maintain that "others" is the object of glauben and that we aren't talking about something others believe, but on the other hand, "hingen" isn't the right subjunctive form for indirect discourse—this site suggests (if I'm interpreting the italics right) that it's an alternate or altmodisch Konjunktiv II form. So, basically, I find the whole thing confusing.

I agree, punctuation would be extremely helpful. The question of the Konjunktivform is interesting, although given how liberal Germans (then and now) tend to use it, I'm not convinced it's decisive. Zoller, who was one of my undergrad teachers, is certainly a trustworthy scholar. But I still disagree. My reading makes more sense in the context. Why would it only be "gewisse" representations, if those weren't to be contrasted with others?

Well I'm not convinced that's decisive; it sounds as if there are two poles: certain representations that don't depend on us are at one end; we at least (as objects of self-consciousness) are at the other, and we want to know about the continuum.

"But one may also wonder why this part of the aphorism gets no representation in its invocations."

My guess: Most people know this Lichtenberg quote from Kripke's quotation of Moore's quotation of Wittgenstein's quotation of Lichtenberg in "Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language" p. 123, citing Moore's "Wittgenstein's Lectures in 1930-33" p. 309, citing what Wittgenstein said in person. Kripke/Wittgenstein/Moore only quote the (now-)famous bit.

Kripke notes that he "ought to have" studied Lichtenberg while writing his book but "haven't done so", in a footnote.

People's acquaintance with Lichtenberg might be even further removed that that. Googling for the Moore citation gave me this claim: "Wittgenstein may have got the Lichtenberg quotation from Weininger, op. cit., part II, ch. 7."

I'd be interested to learn how Weininger quotes Lichtenberg.

What the hell? I thought I responded to that comment like a week ago.

You can read Geschlecht und Charakter free without charge online (here for instance); the relevant bit (it's in the right part and chapter and everything) seems to be this:

"Lichtenberg, der nach Hume gegen das Ich zu Felde zog, war schon kühner als dieser. Er ist der Philosoph der Unpersönlichkeit und korrigiert nüchtern das sprachliche »Ich denke« durch ein sachliches »es denkt«; so ist ihm das Ich eigentlich eine Erfindung der Grammatiker."

So not even much in the way of direct quotation there at all.

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