Friday, March 2, 2012

Number Seventy-Two

Es gibt im gleichen Menschen Erkenntnisse, die bei völliger Verschiedenheit doch das gleiche Objekt haben, so daß wieder nur auf verschiedene Subjekte im gleichen Menschen rückgeschlossen werden muß.

In one and the same human being there are cognitions that, however utterly dissimilar they are, yet have one and the same object, so that one can only conclude that there are different subjects in one and the same human being. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

The same person has perceptions that, for all their differences, have the same object, which leads one to infer that there are different subjects contained within one and the same person. [Hofmann]


This aphorism is cancelled in each translation.

It is the plurality of perceptions or cognitions within the same person (one could also say discoveries or realizations, so this should not necessarily be read with only simple understanding in mind), that compels us (we must deduce this, he says) to acknowledge a plurality of subjects within the same person. This means that every different state of mind is a different configuration of the same subject.

I think this aphorism was cancelled because Kafka might have seen an undesirable contradiction in asserting the sameness and the serial differentiation of the subject at once. He might have decided that it would be more right to discard the idea of the same subject as a container for multiple subjects. Moreover, if there are multiple mind states discerning the object, then how is it possible to speak with confidence about it being the same object?

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