Monday, February 6, 2012

Number Fifty-Seven

Die Sprache kann für alles außerhalb der sinnlichen Welt nur andeutungsweise, aber niemals auch nur annähernd vergleichsweise gebraucht werden, da sie, entsprechend der sinnlichen Welt, nur vom Besitz und seinen Beziehungen handelt.

For everything outside the phenomenal world, language can only be used allusively, but never even approximately in a comparative way, since, corresponding as it does to the phenomenal world, it is concerned only with property and its relations. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

Language can be used only very obliquely of things outside the physical world, not even metaphorically, since all it knows to do -- according to the nature of the physical world -- is to treat of ownership and its relations. [Hofmann]


I prefer the conservatism of the Kaiser/Wilkins translation of this one. Sinnlich refers to the senses, which makes phenomenal the closer translation. The sensory world can include things that are not physical, if I can be said, for example, to sense images in my imagination. One can use language to describe extrasensory things only indirectly, by suggestion, not by comparison, because language answers to property. Metaphor is not comparison, it is identity. The lake is a mirror. The passion is a fire. The two are one. Here, the two are not one, and not even connectable by means of some common trait, the way a simile might connect them.

The sensory world is the world of having, and even in the simplest sense of having an impression, a view, a hearing, a taste. The nonsensory world includes what? Is it only what can't be possessed, which would mean (I think) the world of being, rather than having?

The problem arises directly from the instrumental root of language; if language develops principally as a practical tool, then it will be entirely bound to potential action for practical ends, particularly acquisitive ends. Language designates what is but it arises out of what we want. Remove potential action from consideration, as Bergson says, and everything settles back into a single undifferentiated continuity of existing.

No comments: