Sunday, February 12, 2012

Number Sixty-One

Wer innerhalb der Welt seinen Nächsten liebt, tut nicht mehr und nicht weniger Unrecht, als wer innerhalb der Welt sich selbst liebt. Es bliebe nur die Frage, ob das erstere möglich ist.

Anyone who loves his neighbor within the limits of the world is doing no more and no less injustice than someone who loves himself within the limits of the world. There remains only the question whether the former is possible. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

Whoever in this world loves his neighbor does just as much and just as little wrong as who in this world loves himself. Remains the question whether the former is possible. [Hofmann]


Both translations mark this aphorism cancelled.

"... innerhalb der Welt" is the component that seems to require the most attention. It is important enough that Kafka insistently repeats it, so his topic is not love, but loving within the world. This might link up with the previous aphorism; so that loving within the limits, in an ordinary way, is not really different in character from self love.

He touches on, but I think unintentionally, the idea that we can mistake self love for love of others. The main idea here, though, is that loving the self and loving others within the world is neither here nor there, if the latter is even possible. Loving outside the world, I assume here as a renunciate, is the variation in love that would get the one beyond this indeterminate state of value, neither more or less unjust. Put another way: favoring you is not that different from favoring me, if we're both elements in the world. Perhaps, only when leaving the world behind for good do you move on to the level of loving all mankind, and so to a kind of love in which self-love and love of the neighbor are different in an important way?

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