Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Number Ninety-Eight

Die Vorstellung von der unendlichen Weite und Fülle des Kosmos ist das Ergebnis der zum Äußersten getriebenen Mischung von mühevoller Schöpfung und freier Selbstbesinnung.

The notion of the infinite expanse and copiousness of the cosmos is the result of the mixture, carried to the extreme limit, of laborious creation and free self-determination. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

The conception of the infinite plenitude and expanse of the universe is the result of taking to an extreme a combination of strenuous creativity and free contemplation. [Hofmann]


Marked cancelled in Kaiser/Wilkins only.

Conception here implies that Kafka is speaking of people, and not the creator. If this is so, then Kafka is here trying to account for the idea among mankind that the cosmos is infinite (as opposed to, for example, trying to explain the guidelines along which the cosmos was formed by its creator).

This means that human beings attribute to the cosmos an infinity that we necessarily find in ourselves, as we interminably produce different explanations and possibilities. This is not to say that the universe is not physically infinite, but infinity is not something that we can see as such. It's only the absence of anything we would want to recognize as a limit. If we go looking for the medieval crystal boundary of the universe, and don't see it, we say there's nothing there. In fact, it may be there, for all that direct observation can tell us. In order to tally up the plausibility of the existence of such a thing, it's necessary to turn to theory, which is always an anticipation and a generalization from the perspective of experience. What needs to be determined here is whether there exists any relationship between the infinity we conceive and the infinity we perceive, and what kind.

No comments: