wir wollten denn... (Mauthner)

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Löwenfrau

Senior Member
Brazilian Portuguese
Hello :)

I'm having trouble figuring out the way Mauthner constructed this sentence in blue:


"Wollen wir Ernst machen mit einer vergleichenden Religionswissenschaft, so haben wir zu einer Unterscheidung zwischen Gott und Götze kein Recht mehr; wir wollten denn das grobsinnliche Bild, von dem der Gläubige wunderbare Hilfe erwartet, einen Götzen, den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff, dessen Wunder und Hilfe der Gläubige mit Worten anruft, Gott nennen." Mauthner

I think I've got confused with the way he went on listing einen Götzen, den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff... (I would at least expect some "as much as" between Götzen and the geläuterten Gottesbegriff). So I just wanted to check if my first reading is correct:

we would then like to call the crude image from which the believer expects miraculous help, an idol, the abstract and purified/depurated concept of God, whose miracle and assistance the believer invoke through words, with the name God.

(I.e.: we would then like to call [with the name] God the crude image...)
 
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  • bearded

    Senior Member
    Hallo
    My interpretation is different: Wir wollten denn means 'es sei denn wir wollen' (unless we want):.
    If we wish to be serious with comparative science of religion, we don't have anymore the right to distinguish between God and idol: unless we want to call 'an idol' the crude image...., and 'God ' the abstract god concept, whose miracles...''
    EDIT: partially crossed with Demiurg. I am glad to see that we agree.
     

    Löwenfrau

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I see. But I was thinking that he meant the exact opposite: for, once we no longer have the right to distinguish between God and Idol, we should then call both Idol and the higher concept of the One God by the same name... I thought that this "Wollten wir denn" was a rhetoric way to say "Wir sollten denn", something like "We should... We ought... We would like to" (We should want to do so)
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    Sure, but please consider ''we do not have any longer the right to distinguish...''(Mauthner's opinion) ''unless we want...(a hypothesis M. does not agree upon). That is what I believe to be the meaning of the sentence, but then of course I do not have the whole text in front of me.
    Even better: ''unless we wanted '' (unrealistic thought).
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    Hi Schimmelreiter
    If we call idols gods, then in my view we do not distinguish any more between the two. In this case, why say 'except if' or 'unless' ? After 'except if' ' there should be an example of how in some cases we would continue distinguishing... Also I find a symmetry in the text: wir nennen das Bild..Götzen / den abstrakten Begriff Gott. Please re-consider my above interpretation. It is very well possible that I am wrong altogether, but in your translation there is something unclear to me. As usual, this text is awfully complicated.
     

    Schimmelreiter

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    Hi Schimmelreiter
    If we call idols gods, then in my view we do not distinguish any more between the two. In this case, why say 'except if' or 'unless' ? After 'except if' ' there should be an example of how in some cases we would continue distinguishing... Also I find a symmetry in the text: wir nennen das Bild..Götzen / den abstrakten Begriff Gott. Please re-consider my above interpretation. It is very well possible that I am wrong altogether, but in your translation there is something unclear to me. As usual, this text is awfully complicated.
    I misunderstood the sentence, which is why I deleted my post.
     

    Löwenfrau

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Hi Schimmelreiter
    If we call idols gods, then in my view we do not distinguish any more between the two. In this case, why say 'except if' or 'unless' ? After 'except if' ' there should be an example of how in some cases we would continue distinguishing... Also I find a symmetry in the text: wir nennen das Bild..Götzen / den abstrakten Begriff Gott. Please re-consider my above interpretation. It is very well possible that I am wrong altogether, but in your translation there is something unclear to me. As usual, this text is awfully complicated.
    That's exactly why I didn't interpreted "wollten wir denn" as "except if/ unless", because to call Idol a god is to do precisely what Mauthner had just said we are suppose to do.

    I was thinking: "... if we are to take seriously a comparative science of religion we no longer have the right to a distinction between God and Idol; we should then / let's then call by the name God the crude image from which the believer expects miraculous help, an idol, as well as the abstract and purified/depurated concept of God, whose miracle and assistance the believer invoke through words"

    Don't you think this makes sense?
     
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    bearded

    Senior Member
    That's exactly why I didn't interpreted "wollten wir denn" as "except if/ unless", because to call Idol a god is to do precisely what Mauthner had just said we are suppose to do.

    I was thinking: "... if we are to take seriously a comparative science of religion we no longer have the right to a distinction between God and Idol; we should then / let's then call by the name God the crude image from which the believer expects miraculous help, an idol, as well as the abstract and purified/depurated concept of God, whose miracle and assistance the believer invoke through words"

    Don't you think this makes sense?
    In my view, 'denn' is not 'then', and 'wollten wir denn' can only mean 'unless we wanted' or 'except if we wanted', as confirmed by native speakers. Therefore I will try to 'defend' my interpretation given in #3: in M.'s opinion there should be no more distinction between God and idol, UNLESS (and here M: disapproves) you wanted to continue calling the Bild with the name idol, and the abstract concept with the name of God.
    I think there is no contradiction in the logic of this sentence.
     

    Schimmelreiter

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    Und bist Du jetzt mit meiner Deutung laut #3 einverstanden ?
    Klar.
    If we are to get serious about comparative religious studies, we are no longer entitled to a distinction between god and idol unless we call the image idol, crudely appealing to the senses of the faithful who expect miraculous help from it, and call a god's pure and abstract concept god, verbally invoked by the faithful for miracles and help.
     

    Löwenfrau

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    In my view, 'denn' is not 'then', and 'wollten wir denn' can only mean 'unless we wanted' or 'except if we wanted', as confirmed by native speakers. Therefore I will try to 'defend' my interpretation given in #3: in M.'s opinion there should be no more distinction between God and idol, UNLESS (and here M: disapproves) you wanted to continue calling the Bild with the name idol, and the abstract concept with the name of God.
    I think there is no contradiction in the logic of this sentence.
    Now I see! I was reading the many substantives as pertaining to the same list called God: das grobsinnliche Bild, einen Götzen and den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff. I said in my first post that I wasn't sure as to the intentions of Mauthner's sequence. So, it was all an oversight of my own. Now I understand that he is rather mentioning two designations, one with the name idol, and other with the name God:

    "... if we are to take seriously a comparative science of religion we no longer have the right to a distinction between God and Idol; unless we wanted to call an idol the crude image from which the believer expects miraculous help, and God the abstract and purified/depurated concept of God, whose miracle and assistance the believer invoke through words"

    If it's this, it's all clear now!
     

    Löwenfrau

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    P.S.: And, by the way, the irony in using two different names, which Mauthner most certainly means here, is self-explanatory, given the almost identical characterizations that he makes on idol - the crude image from which the believer expects miraculous help - and God - the abstract and purified/depurated concept of God, whose miracle and assistance the believer invoke through words. I'd even say that he is implicitly, ironically comparing the crude image with the abstract concept (in the sense that he regards them as equally evident lies).
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    I'd even say that he is implicitly, ironically comparing the crude image with the abstract concept (in the sense that he regards them as equally evident lies).
    I agree with you on this point.
    But the complex sentence structure might have thrown you off track with some of the other statements.

    From a purely grammatical viewpoint I analyze it this way:
    "[...]; wir wollten denn das grobsinnliche Bild, [explanatory injections], Gott nennen." [obviously the main clause]
    -> 'wollten wir denn' I would also clearly understand as 'es sei denn wir wollten'
    BUT
    -> with 'wir wollten denn' I'm not so sure if grammar allows the same interpretation!??
    'wir wollten denn' sounds more equivalent to 'denn wir wollten' or 'wir wollten ja (auch)'

    BTW: 'wollten' is probably Konjunktiv2. Converted to the less confusing Ersatzkonjunktiv:
    "[...]; denn wir würden (ja auch) das grobsinnliche Bild, [explanatory injections], Gott nennen wollen."

    And for the explanatory injections:
    [...] das grobsinnliche Bild, [part of the main clause]
    von dem der Gläubige wunderbare Hilfe erwartet, [backward reference to 'grobsinnliches Bild' (of the 'one and only God')]

    einen Götzen, [this is Mauthner's summation of the previous term and reverse psychology with respect to the Church's definition of "Götze" = 'ein grobsinnliches Bild/Idol, von dem Gläubige (sprich: Heiden) wunderbare Hilfe erwarten']

    den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff, [description ot the word 'Götzen']
    -> I think the word 'geläutert' means here that the word 'Götze' has been cleansed and stripped of its meaning 'god' in order to differentiate it from 'the real god', resulting in its current meaning 'Abgott/Idol'

    dessen Wunder und Hilfe der Gläubige mit Worten anruft, [backward reference to 'Götzen']
    -> this repetition of praying and expecting help, but now with reference to 'Götze', is probably intended to show the reader without doubt that both entities, Gott and Götze, already receive the very same treatment and yet, in the view of many religions, praying to your own 'god' is obligatory but honoring the other is a sin.

    Summary: With this odd phrasing Mauthner does not just compare Gott and Götze but he puts them on the same level, thus substantiating his statement in the introductory clause that we should have no right to differentiate between them, at least not on a scientific or linguistic level.
     

    Löwenfrau

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    manfy, this is confusing me, above all because many of your remarks are at some level closed to my first attempt, for which the other members - Schimmelreiter, bearded man and Demiurg - made many corrections and improvements. I have to read your post on the sentence more than just once - it is indeed a very complex sentence structure we are dealing with here! - but please indicate if you've looked at the other member's posts and at which point you disagree.
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    When I first skimmed through this thread, all looked good except for the association of the subclause 'den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff' with God - I just couldn't find this association in the original sentence.
    Since the usual practice of dissecting the sentence in my head only lead to multiple, varying results and ultimately to more confusion, I finally put it on paper and analyzed each subclause purely grammatically. The result you can find in my previous post.

    One of the key elements in this sentence is the function of the subclause 'den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff' and based on grammar I can't see any other viable function but descriptive injection for the word 'einen Götzen'.
    At first this might seem odd but on second thought it is not. After all, 'Götze' IS a 'Gottesbegriff'; even though it does not describe an 'accepted' God, it is used to decribe the image/depiction of any false God.

    Based on the previous translations I'd go in this direction:
    (text in curly brackets are my own addition for clarity, because this odd sentence structure does not work well in English. I see these additions as implied in the German version)

    If we are to get serious about comparative religious studies, we are no longer entitled to a distinction between God and Idol; after all, we are {already} inclined to call a crudely sensuous image from which the faithful expects miraculous help -- {which is coincidentally the textbook definition for} 'Götze' (an idol), the abstract and cleansed/devalued expression for a deity, whose miracles and help is conjured through the words of the believer -- by the name of God.

    @bearded man: The reason why your suggestion of ''unless we wanted '' (unrealistic thought) does not quite work for me in this sentence is because it is NOT unrealistic. It's exactly what Christians are doing and have been doing from the very beginning! We are praying to the sacred symbol of the cross and to various images of God and saints -- except, we call those pictures icons rather than idols.

    If some people from a far away planet would visit and observe us today, without any knowledge about the religion and its background they'd probably describe us as a primitive race that is idolizing crude symbols (the cross) !!
    Well, pretty much the very same thing what many of us do today when we are thinking of old civilisations/religions that we don't really understand.

    The irony and ludicrous nature of such premature judgement and condemnation based on first impressions but no background knowledge (or based on ulterior motives, as it is and was being practised in most religions) is self-evident.
     
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    bearded

    Senior Member
    Hello Manfy
    I admit that yours is a possible interpretation, but to me it appears less probable than Demiurg's, Schimmelreiter's and mine. To say that 'wir wollten denn' is equivalent to 'we are already inclined' requires an effort bigger than to say it means 'unless we wanted'.
    And also from a logical point of view, first the sentence says that a distinction between the names God and idol is no longer justified (and therefore this distinction does exist so far), and then that practically that distinction does not exist. That seems a contradiction to me. Please re-consider Schimmelreiter's beautiful translation and sincerely let me know whether you regard it as more plausible or not.
    I am curious to read SR's opinion on this matter, anyhow.
     
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    Schimmelreiter

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    wir wollten denn is an old-fashioned exceptive clause meaning except if we want/unless we want.
    It's not Irrealis (unless we wanted), it's Realis (unless we want).

    The structure is this:

    Ich bin traurig, sie käme denn. = Ich bin traurig, außer sie kommt.

    Unlike in a conditional clause, Konjunktiv II is not Irrealis in an exceptive clause. Please also note that the verb of the main clause that goes together with an exceptive clause is in the indicative mood: Ich bin traurig (Mauthner's main clause: so haben wir zu einer Unterscheidung zwischen Gott und Götze kein Recht mehr).



    PS
    In the depths of history, there must also have been exceptive clauses with Konjunktiv I (see the phrase es sei denn, which may be substituted for außer: Ich bin traurig, es sei denn, sie kommt.)

    Even supposing Mauthner's German were archaic enough for him to have considered using Konjunktiv I (wir wollen denn), he'd still have gone for Konjunktiv II (wir wollten denn) since the indicative (wir wollen) and Konjunktiv I (wir wollen) are homonyms.
     
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    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    To say that 'wir wollten denn' is equivalent to 'we are already inclined' requires an effort bigger than to say it means 'unless we wanted'.
    Yes, sorry. That was already the idiomatic version. The literal one is 'we would like to' and from there it's a little, logical step to 'we are inclined'.

    And also from a logical point of view, first the sentence says that a distinction between the names God and idol is no longer justified :tick: (and therefore this distinction does exist so far) :tick:, and then that practically that distinction does not exist :cross: . That seems a contradiction to me.
    Mauthner does not claim that the verbal distinction does not exist, but he criticizes (in his usual style) that the upkeep of this verbal distinction is nonsencial, considering that it is simply a question of viewpoints: religion A calls god A (the real) God and god B an idol, at the very same time religion B calls god B (the real) God and god A an idol.
    Considering that neither side can prove their spiritual concept in a scientific fashion, I find this example chosen by Mauthner very witty and it perfectly proves his point that the verbal/linguistic differentiation between God and Götze should not exist, i.e. a Götze, a word that by the way has a very derogatory undertone in German, much more so than the English idol (!!), is in reality just 'somebody elses god' and therefore should be treated with respect!

    Please re-consider Schimmelreiter's beautiful translation and sincerely let me know whether you regard it as more plausible or not.
    I am curious to read SR's opinion on this matter, anyhow.
    Yes, me too. I'll analyze his version later this evening
     

    Löwenfrau

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Manfy (and I ask Schimmelreiter please consider that carefully too),

    I have some instinctive counter-arguments to your own arguments, and please consider that they come, more than anything else, from my familiarity with the development of Mauthner's reasoning in this article "Gott", as well as with his ironical and often obscure (intentionally, ironically obscure) style. I might, of course, be sadly mistaken, but my feeling tells me that the arguments are worthy.

    1)
    One of the key elements in this sentence is the function of the subclause 'den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff' and based on grammar I can't see any other viable function but descriptive injection for the word 'einen Götzen'.
    At first this might seem odd but on second thought it is not. After all, 'Götze' IS a 'Gottesbegriff'; even though it does not describe an 'accepted' God, it is used to decribe the image/depiction of any false God.
    I really don't see why can't you see any other viable grammatical function for that subclause; imagine that Mauthner could have omitted an "und" (which I believe he would be grammatically allowed to), like this:
    "wir wollten denn das grobsinnliche Bild, von dem der Gläubige wunderbare Hilfe erwartet, einen Götzen, und den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff, dessen Wunder und Hilfe der Gläubige mit Worten anruft, Gott nennen"; and, if he has omitted this "und", this means he has also omitted the first "nennen", like this: "wir wollten denn das grobsinnliche Bild, von dem der Gläubige wunderbare Hilfe erwartet, einen Götzen nennen, und den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff, dessen Wunder und Hilfe der Gläubige mit Worten anruft, Gott nennen".Then your interpretation would be no longer possible in terms of grammatic, and the text would already have to be understood in another way.

    2)
    When I first skimmed through this thread, all looked good except for the association of the subclause 'den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff' with God - I just couldn't find this association in the original sentence.
    Even disregarding the grammatical elements I added above ('und' and a first 'nennen'), I still don't see why don't you see a possible association between God and 'den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff'. To begin with, from Mauthner's point of view - and he insists on this through the whole text - 'God' is indeed nothing but a word, a concept (Gott = Gottesbegriff), and besides, when I consider the possible translations for 'geläutert' (of course: within my limited knowledge of German), all of them fit: be it an explained, a refined, a sublime or a depurated (which I think it's the case here) concept of God, all these expressions convey the Christian idea of God from Mauthner's point of view, that is to say: a concept (for instance, as Scholastic did) that has been explained and refined, over which many philosophical debate have arisen; a concept that has been depurated and turned sublime, because no sensible (no crudely sensuous) elements make part of it, because it is the concept of a One and Only All Mighty God...

    3)
    @bearded man: The reason why your suggestion of ''unless we wanted '' (unrealistic thought) does not quite work for me in this sentence is because it is NOT unrealistic. It's exactly what Christians are doing and have been doing from the very beginning! We are praying to the sacred symbol of the cross and to various images of God and saints -- except, we call those pictures icons rather than idols.

    If some people from a far away planet would visit and observe us today, without any knowledge about the religion and its background they'd probably describe us as a primitive race that is idolizing crude symbols (the cross) !!
    Well, pretty much the very same thing what many of us do today when we are thinking of old civilisations/religions that we don't really understand.

    The irony and ludicrous nature of such premature judgement and condemnation based on first impressions but no background knowledge (or based on ulterior motives, as it is and was being practised in most religions) is self-evident.
    I understand what you say, and I agree with all that; besides, I agree that Mauthner agrees with that too. The trouble is: you consider that he is saying directly what he thinks, and I believe that, in this point, he is doing the opposite: he is saying what he thinks at the same time that he is saying what a Christian culture thinks - and, as a matter of fact, a culture that was pretty alive at Mauthner's time: so, when he says "wollten wir denn", whe must carefully consider what does this "us" mean here. You say "The reason why your suggestion of 'unless we wanted' (unrealistic thought) does not quite work for me in this sentence is because it is NOT unrealistic. It's exactly what Christians are doing and have been doing from the very beginning! We are praying to the sacred symbol of the cross and to various images of God and saints -- except, we call those pictures icons rather than idols.", but exactly: that's what "we Christians" have been doing, and Mauthner is including himself in this "we" to ironically say that this is ridiculous: is ridiculous to make a distinction between God and Idol if people who believe in the so-called idols (by the Christians) do the same thing as the Christians: the Idol believer (indigenous) expects "miraculous help from the crudely sensuous image", and the God believer (Christian) "invokes through words the help and miracle from an abstract and pure/depurated concept". Both of them are equally deceived.

    So, to be brief: I think Mauthner's reasoning is ironical, that's why he used "wollten wir denn" = "unless we"; that is to say: "unless we wanted to distinguish (continue distinguishing) between two things that are obviously the same, just out of our Christian arrogance".
     
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    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    "wir wollten denn das grobsinnliche Bild, von dem der Gläubige wunderbare Hilfe erwartet, einen Götzen, und den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff, dessen Wunder und Hilfe der Gläubige mit Worten anruft, Gott nennen"; and, if he has omitted this "und", this means he has also omitted the first "nennen", like this: "wir wollten denn das grobsinnliche Bild, von dem der Gläubige wunderbare Hilfe erwartet, einen Götzen nennen, und den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff, dessen Wunder und Hilfe der Gläubige mit Worten anruft, Gott nennen".Then your interpretation would be no longer possible in terms of grammatic, and the text would already have to be understood in another way.
    Aiiiyah! Finally it dawns on me where you're coming from!
    I fully agree that the sentence changes meaning when you add 'und' to create 'einen Götzen und den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff' and that's because now the phrase 'den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff' is clearly a part of a 2 item list (before I never understood what you meant with 'list' in your posts) and as a result the subsequent clause 'dessen Wunder...' now clearly refers to "Gottesbegriff" (which now stands on its own and grammatically does not refer to any other word in that sentence) and not to "Götze"...which, of course, blows my own interpretation out of the water completely.

    Unfortunately though, your interpretation is grammatically impossible! Even though I don't know all of Mauthner's works, my assessment after reading 30-50 pages of his book is very firm that he would not make this kind of grammatical mistake - or more accurately, he would not leave his statement so wide open to potential misinterpretation by unnecessarily omitting words. There's no semantic or literary reason or benefit for this!

    Pls note, my answer is incomplete. Busy now, I'll comment more later!
     

    Löwenfrau

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Manfy, please take your time!

    But I really don't understand why my interpretation is grammatically impossible... I've seen this kind of omissions quite often in German...

    And I thought, really, that my interpretation was just the same as bearded man's and Schimmelreiter's...
    Example (bearded man):

    If we wish to be serious with comparative science of religion, we don't have anymore the right to distinguish between God and idol: unless we want to call 'an idol' the crude image...., and 'God ' the abstract god concept, whose miracles...''
    And (Schimmelreiter):
    If we are to get serious about comparative religious studies, we are no longer entitled to a distinction between god and idol unless we call the image idol, crudely appealing to the senses of the faithful who expect miraculous help from it, and call a god's pure and abstract concept god, verbally invoked by the faithful for miracles and help.
    I intended to say the same thing... What's the difference??

    :confused:
     
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    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Finally I can see what you guys are seeing! And now it's "klar wie Kloßbrühe" ;) :

    [...]; wir wollten denn {zum einen} das grobsinnliche Bild, [...], einen Götzen, {zum anderen} den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff, [...], Gott nennen.

    And yes, this interpretation is grammatically very possible, hence my contrary claim in post #22 is wrong!
    In fact, this interpretation is much more likely to be intended by Mauthner than the one I have 'conjured' (even though I still consider my own version as possible and viable).
    Thanks for opening my eyes and sorry for the mayhem I created!!

    I think, I know what put me on that wrong path in the first place:
    From you previous thread "grobsinnlich vs gröbstsinnlich" I somehow put it in my head that Mauthner used 'grobsinnlich' for the crude (in the sense of simplistic, naive, kitschig) depiction of the christian god and 'gröbstsinnlich' for the depiction of Götzen.
    After re-reading, I realize that I was wrong. He actually used 'grobsinnlich' for gods from the Classical Antiquity and 'gröbstsinnlich' for gods from other, seemingly less advanced cultures.

    BTW, in the process of figuring this out I ran across this definition in Grimm's dictionary:
    grobsinnlich = auf eine krasse Art sinnlich

    Regarding Schimmelreiter's translation:
    Schimmelreiter said:
    If we are to get serious about comparative religious studies, we are no longer entitled to a distinction between god and idol unless we call the image idol, crudely appealing to the senses of the faithful who expect miraculous help from it, and call a god's pure and abstract concept god, verbally invoked by the faithful for miracles and help.
    I agree with bearded man. This is a very eloquent translation in a very idiomatic form (as far as I can judge this as a non-native English speaker).


    Finally, this leaves only one open issue: How to interpret 'wir wollten denn'
    And here I have to put my foot down! :)
    The 'unless we want' interpretation does not work. Look at the logic in this simplification:

    Wir haben zu einer Unterscheidung zwischen Gott und Götze kein Recht mehr; es sei denn/ausser wir nennen das grobsinnliche Bild Götze und den geläuterten Gottesbegriff Gott.

    The phrase 'es sei denn' expresses that we are still rightfully allowed to differentiate between Gott und Götze IF we do what the remainder of the sentence says.
    This makes no sense because that is exactly what we are and always have been doing, hence Mauthner is contradicting himself, nay, he's actually disproving his own statement in the introductory clause.

    To get more insight into the historical use I looked up 'denn' in Grimm.

    To summarize the very long entry:
    * The main separation in meaning of denn and dann occured around 1850, i.e. shortly before Mauthner started his education. And since Mauthner was a forward thinker, particularly in regards to language, it is likely that he did observe this separation in meaning.

    the potential, historic uses of 'denn' are: (selected according to my assessment of the Grimm entry)
    * Latin tunc = dann, anschließend, danach
    * Latin nisi = aber, jedoch, sondern (this is similar but not the same as this meaning is also used in the phrase 'es sei denn')
    * German mithin = folglich, dementsprechend, also (this is a derivative from Latin tunc, I suppose)

    In our case, I think, the Latin nisi = aber, jedoch, sondern makes most sense:

    Wir haben zu einer Unterscheidung zwischen Gott und Götze kein Recht mehr; wir würden jedoch das grobsinnliche Bild Götze und den geläuterten Gottesbegriff Gott nennen wollen.

    The use of Konjunktiv 2 'wollten' or 'würden wollen' marks a clear disapproval of the situation described in the sentence by the speaker, without actually accusing anyone of doing it (even though the speaker knows or suspects that it is being done). And this feels like Mauthner style 101 !
    BTW: this use (and sometimes overuse) of Konjunktiv2, in order to make something sound more polite or to remove the undertone of an accusation is very prevalent in Austria. I suppose its source lies in the K&K era - and Mauthner is Czech and was directly exposed to the K&K monarchy!

    The word 'jedoch' can also be read as 'dem zutrotz/dem zuwider/dem ungeachtet'.

    Sorry for being long-winded!
     
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    Schimmelreiter

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    The word order of wir wollten denn, with denn following the finite verb, rules out any interpretation save for the exceptive one.

    My whole post #19 explains Konjunktiv II as used in exceptive clauses.



    The absence of any contradiction becomes apparent when we consider the fact that Mauthner made a statement ex negativo (“nicht, außer”).

    Ex positivo (“nur dann, wenn”), Mauthner’s statement reads like this:

    German:
    Wollen wir Ernst machen mit einer vergleichenden Religionswissenschaft, so haben wir zu einer Unterscheidung zwischen Gott und Götze nur dann ein Recht, wenn wir das grobsinnliche Bild, von dem der Gläubige wunderbare Hilfe erwartet, einen Götzen, den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff, dessen Wunder und Hilfe der Gläubige mit Worten anruft, Gott nennen.

    English:
    If we are to get serious about comparative religious studies, we are only entitled to a distinction between god and idol if we call the image idol, crudely appealing to the senses of the faithful who expect miraculous help from it, and call a god's pure and abstract concept god, verbally invoked by the faithful for miracles and help.

    English (modernised):
    If we are to get serious about comparative religious studies, the only distinction between god and idol that makes sense is this: We call the image idol, crudely appealing to the senses of the faithful who expect miraculous help from it, and we call a god's pure and abstract concept god, verbally invoked by the faithful for miracles and help.
     
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    bearded

    Senior Member
    Hello Manfy
    >> the phrase 'es sei denn' expresses that we are still rightfully allowed to differentiate...<<

    Sorry, I do not agree. Why do you reject the interpretation according to posts #5 and 10 ?
    One thing is Mauthner's opinion, another thing is what he does not approve of (unless we... do, or continue doing, something that we shouldn't do).
     
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    Löwenfrau

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    The word order of wir wollten denn, with denn following the finite verb, rules out any interpretation save for the exceptive one.

    My whole post #19 explains Konjunktiv II as used in exceptive clauses.



    The absence of any contradiction becomes apparent when we consider the fact that Mauthner made a statement ex negativo (“nicht, außer”).

    Ex positivo (“nur dann, wenn”), Mauthner’s statement reads like this:

    German:
    Wollen wir Ernst machen mit einer vergleichenden Religionswissenschaft, so haben wir zu einer Unterscheidung zwischen Gott und Götze nur dann ein Recht, wenn wir das grobsinnliche Bild, von dem der Gläubige wunderbare Hilfe erwartet, einen Götzen, den abstrakten, geläuterten Gottesbegriff, dessen Wunder und Hilfe der Gläubige mit Worten anruft, Gott nennen.

    English:
    If we are to get serious about comparative religious studies, we are only entitled to a distinction between god and idol if we call the image idol, crudely appealing to the senses of the faithful who expect miraculous help from it, and call a god's pure and abstract concept god, verbally invoked by the faithful for miracles and help.

    English (modernised):
    If we are to get serious about comparative religious studies, the only distinction between god and idol that makes sense is this: We call the image idol, crudely appealing to the senses of the faithful who expect miraculous help from it, and we call a god's pure and abstract concept god, verbally invoked by the faithful for miracles and help.
    And I insist: I smell irony in this; I think, manfy, maybe you are disregarding the irony and therefore not seeing how the sentence makes sense with "wollten wir denn" as "except...". The irony is in-between the lines:

    If we are to get serious about comparative religious studies, we are only entitled to a distinction between god and idol if we call the image idol, crudely appealing to the senses of the faithful who expect miraculous help from it, and call a god's pure and abstract concept god, verbally invoked by the faithful for miracles and help [, which is altogether ridiculous, which I Mauthner regard as altogether ridiculous].
     

    Löwenfrau

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Hello Manfy
    >> the prase 'es sei denn' expresses that we are still rightfully allowed to differentiate...<<

    Sorry, I do not agree. Why do you reject the interpretation according to posts #5 and 10 ?
    One thing is Mauthner's opinion, another thing is what he does not approve of (unless we... do, or continue doing, something that we shouldn't do).
    Exactly, and, because he does not approve it (to continue doing something we should not), he talks about it ironically, showing that doing this is, besides arrogant, ridiculous too: to call by different names, and give to which of them a different value (to regard one as superior to the other) things that are the same.
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    You guys drive a hard bargain! So, you want to strip me of my last potentially correct contribution to this thread, huh?
    So sei es denn! ;)

    I DO admit that an interpretation as exceptive clause with ironic underpinnings is possible!

    Even though I still believe that this irony would only work well if the condition that is being ridiculed is already established and accepted as a ridiculous one in general, albeit possibly still being practised by many.
    And somehow I have a hard time believing that this was the case when Mauthner wrote his book during the rather pessimistic era of Fin de siècle, when the Christian Church still had a firm hold on its clientele in Central Europe!
     

    Löwenfrau

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    You guys drive a hard bargain! So, you want to strip me of my last potentially correct contribution to this thread, huh?
    This is really not intended!

    Even though I still believe that this irony would only work well if the condition that is being ridiculed is already established and accepted as a ridiculous one in general, albeit possibly still being practised by many.
    And somehow I have a hard time believing that this was the case when Mauthner wrote his book during the rather pessimistic era of Fin de siècle, when the Christian Church still had a firm hold on its clientele in Central Europe!
    I know what you mean, but... Even though this wasn't the case regarding population in general, this could be the case among philosophers, scholars, and students. For instance, Schopenhauer, before Mauthner, would agree with Mauthner's point of view. Lou Salomé and Nietzsche too. Even if in general it doesn't work perfectly well, by the reason you pointed out, I think it does work fine for some readers and for Mauthner himself (and here I'd like to add that is a rethoric device to speak with oneself in order to convince others).
    Plus, I remind here another passage in the same text in which Mauthner puts an ironic observation regarding this very subject:
    "Die Protestanten waren es, die für ihren Priester, den gonga der Fetischneger, sicherlich ohne den Humor zu empfinden, die Bezeichnung »Diener am Wort« gefunden haben."I think he is here clearly saying that the expression "Diener am Wort" can be laughet at, even though people who created it (die Protestanten) don't see the funny and irony about it...
    ;)
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    This is really not intended!
    No worries! I know!
    And FYI, I didn't just agree in resignation. I really can see that your point of view is possible and you do have very good points and arguments that I can accept, but in this specific case I just don't choose to adopt it as my primary interpretation.
     
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