wie verkehrt ein solches Beginnen war

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Löwenfrau

Senior Member
Brazilian Portuguese
Hi.
I'm looking for the best nuance of the words "verkehrt" and "Beginnen" in this context:

"Nun ist es sehr beachtenswert, daß die Entdeckung der Protisten uns in der Frage nach dem Wesen des Lebens durchaus nicht gefördert hat; und wir müssen bescheidentlich eingestehen, daß wir dem Lebensbegriff gegenüber fast ebensolche Kinder geblieben sind, wie die Griechen waren. Wir haben nämlich, wie hypnotisiert von dem Entwicklungsgedanken, die neue Frage nach dem Entstehen des Lebens zu beantworten gesucht und die alte Frage nach dem Wesen des Lebens einstweilen zurückgestellt. Wie verkehrt ein solches Beginnen war, werden wir einsehen, wenn wir uns des falschen Lärms erinnern, den Du Bois-Reymond vor bald vierzig Jahren durch sein schwülstiges Ignorabimus in der deutschen Gelehrtenwelt erregte." Mauthner

"How inverted / mistaken such a starting point/ beginning was..."

"Inverted" is more "wortwörtlich" than "mistaken", I think. As to "Beginnen", it seems that he is thinking in the starting point of a logic reasoning. "Beginnen", in this sense, would not be something like the "gun fire" at some moment, but a logical beginning, so a premise, a logical starting point (starting point, not starting moment). Am I reading it correctly, or might be losing something?
 
  • Schimmelreiter

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    The inappropriateness of this endeavour will be understood if we recall the false excitement among German academia, caused by Du Bois-Reymond's bombastic Ignorabimus well-nigh forty years ago.
     
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    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    The inappropriateness of this endeavour will be understood if we recall the false excitement among German academia, caused by Du Bois-Reymond's bombastic Ignorabimus well-nigh forty years ago.
    That's a very eloquent translation, but doesn't 'endeavour' twist the meaning of the sentence a bit?
    Your sentence sounds like Mauthner is criticizing the whole evolution theory, but the German "ein solches Beginnen" sounds more like "ein solcher Ansatz", isn't it?
    It's more like "We will see how wrong such an approach was when we..."

    Or maybe I'm misinterpreting "ein solches Beginnen", maybe Mauthner is referring to the beginning of being (and its physical manifestation: life)??? (Because the evolution theory approaches the subject from a purely physical, biological aspect, whereas philosophy uses the non-physical approach to life.)
    Extended context might help.
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    After reading through some of the extended context, I believe now that Mauthner is referring to "die neue Frage nach dem Entstehen des Lebens" and not the beginning of life or being itself, as I speculated above.
    I still believe that "the approach" or "the starting point" is a good translation, but to be fair, Schimmelreiter's "The inappropriateness of this endeavour" sounds equally fine. That's probably because I still don't understand what Mauthner is getting at with "Wie verkehrt ein solches Beginnen war" :rolleyes:
    He doesn't seem to elaborate or conclude this thought in the subsequent context.

    Regarding "verkehrt": wrong or mistaken is a broader and more generally applicable translation. "Inverted" would only be suitable if all of Du Bois-Reymond's Ignorabimus had been proven wrong conclusively - but it seems this idea still has its supporters in today's philosophy.
     

    Löwenfrau

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    That's probably because I still don't understand what Mauthner is getting at with "Wie verkehrt ein solches Beginnen war" :rolleyes:
    He doesn't seem to elaborate or conclude this thought in the subsequent context.
    He might elaborate it in a more implicit way, when he later on confronts Du Bois Reymond's and Strauss's opinions:

    "Strauß bemerkte, daß eigentlich drei Rätsel in dem einen Welträtsel verborgen wären: das Entstehen des Lebendigen aus dem Leblosen, des Empfindenden aus dem Empfindungslosen, des Vernünftigen aus dem Vernunftlosen. Du Bois-Reymond habe nun das erste und das dritte dieser Rätsel für lösbar erklärt, die Entstehung des Lebens und die Entstehung der Vernunft, habe aber ohne Angabe der Gründe das zweite Rätsel allein, die Entstehung der Empfindung, für unlösbar erklärt. »Ich gestehe, mir könnte noch eher einleuchten, wenn mir einer sagte: unerklärlich ist und bleibt A, nämlich das Leben; ist aber einmal das gegeben, so folgt von selber, d.h. mittelst natürlicher Entwicklung, B und C, nämlich Empfinden und Denken. Oder meinetwegen auch umgekehrt: A und B lassen sich noch begreifen, aber an C, am Selbstbewußtsein, reißt unser Verständnis ab. Beides, wie gesagt, erschiene mir noch annehmlicher, als daß gerade die mittlere Station allein die unpassierbare sein soll.« In dem bittern »Nachwort als Vorwort« zu seinem (in der kritischen ersten Hälfte) nicht nach Gebühr geschätzten »Alten und neuen Glauben« hat Strauß diesen Gedanken ausgesprochen, gegen welchen sich dann Du Bois-Reymond umsonst mit tönendem Periodenbau wehrte."
    (Maybe further)

    When you ask about the origin or arisen of life, you'll always come to confusion.
     
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    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    I read that yesterday and yet, I still can't make sense of his sentence:
    "Wie verkehrt ein solches Beginnen war, werden wir einsehen, wenn wir uns des falschen Lärms erinnern, den Du Bois-Reymond vor bald vierzig Jahren durch sein schwülstiges Ignorabimus in der deutschen Gelehrtenwelt erregte."

    Here's why:
    * Du Bois-Reymond was obviously wrong with his statement 'Ignorabimus' (we will not know / it is not knowable), at least in regards to the nature of matter and force, and origin of motion.
    * Darwin, on the other hand, was not wrong at all! At least not from current day view - but I'm not sure what theories did go around in 1910.
    => So how could we possibly see that Darwin's endeavour was equally wrong as Du Bois-Reymond's??? Beats me!

    Darwin published "The Origin of Species" in 1859 and apparently it was widely accepted as accurate by the 1870s, however, it was only by the 1930s that it was considered generally undeniable. That means during Mauthner's time it was still doubted, hence Mauthner might have thought that it will turn out to be bogus, just like Du Bois-Reymond's statement!??
    This is just my guess and it is the one viewpoint I can think of, from which Mauthner's sentence above might make sense.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Mauthner's point is quite simple: To replace a deep philosophical question by a shallow scientific one is intellectual sacrilege. (In his view, of course.)
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Mauthner's point is quite simple: To replace a deep philosophical question by a shallow scientific one is intellectual sacrilege. (In his view, of course.)
    That assumption could very well be true. In his writings Mauthner made it quite clear that he didn't like and respect Du Bois-Reymond very much, but Strauss he seemed to admire. Within the same chapter he pointed out that Du Bois approached his views from a perspective of natural sciences whereas Strauss was more a thinker along the lines of classical studies (Naturwissenschaften vs. Geisteswissenschaften).
    So, it seems Mauthner might have been rather sceptical with some or many of the new findings in the field of natural sciences in 1910.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I think it may be useful to describe a bit the background of epistemological debate of the era (2nd half of the 19th and 1st half of the 10. century). This goes a bit beyond a language question but it seems necessary to understand the text: This was the time when Logical Positivism was on the rise and looked like the school of epistemology of the future (Mach, Vienna Circle, Russell, Wittgenstein I, etc). Their programme was to throw out all metaphysics from all human understanding and intellectual discourse. This means that questions that cannot be addressed by scientific method cannot be addressed at all. The more radical among them even tried to prove that metaphysical statement do not even exist and that questions like Is there a God? are meaningless gibberish and that it is only due to deficiencies of natural languages that such questions “resemble” semantically meaningful statements and that stricter languages yet to be developed and that shloud eventually be used in academic discourse would not even allow to formulate such questions (See e.g. Carnap’s famous definition of meaning: “The meaning of a statement is the method of its verification”). When Wittgenstein came to the conclusion that the Positivist programme cannot succeed, as a more radical Positivist, his conclusion was that the whole of philosophy was purposeless puzzle-solving and should be abolished, except for analytical disciplines like formal logic and (formal) language theory.
    Only some epistemologists were as radical as Wittgenstein or Carnap but this way of thinking was very influential and to a certain degree still is. Many other philosophers saw Logical Positivism and schools influenced by it as their main opponents. This dragged on until the famous Positivismusstreit of the 1960s although the thinkers attacked by Adorno, Habermas et al. weren’t Positivists (mainly Popper and Albert) but that is definitely a different matter.
     
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