[lit-ideas] Re: E Mail and Schopenhauer's "The Art of Being ProvedRight"

  • From: John Wager <johnwager@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 16 May 2004 07:51:19 -0500

I've been thinking about "schweigen" lately.

It's a verb!

(Sometimes I'm a little slow.)

But in English, it's NOT a verb.  I can't seem to come up with an
equivalent English verb, only English nouns that can be used WITH
English verbs that convey some of "schweigen."  In German, an action you
can perform is the action of being quiet.  This is something one DOES. I
don't know how to say this in English as directly; in English it is
always indirect; one "keeps" silence, or one "remains" silent. But
keeping and remaining are the English verbs, not "silence."  Silence is
a noun.  It's a thing, not an action.  There is a transitive verb
"silence" but it's what we do TO something, not something we do just as
something we do. But in German, we can "silence" intransitively; we can
just do it as something we do, without doing it TO anything.

Whether or not one is religious, or whether one is a theist, or whether
one is a mystic, in German one can still "silence" intransitively.  But
in English one cannot do this! No wonder there is some "looseness" in
whether this could be interpreted as a semi-mystical utterance on W's
part; it's not just a question of W's religious roots and value of
silence. German gives one permission to do something that English
doesn't give similar permission for. Some of the difficulty is the lack
of a comparable intransitive English verb.

Richard Henninge wrote:

>. . . .
>Even the last line, with its Arabian proverb, returns us to the German verb
>(schweigen) encountered in Wittgenstein's final sentence from the Tractatus:
>"Am Baume des Schweigens hängt seine Frucht der Friede." "Upon the tree of
>remaining silent hangs its fruit--peace."
>Wittgenstein: 7. Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen.
>"Of that of which one cannot speak, of that one must remain silent."

(re-sending message; the first attempt didn't seem to have gone through.)

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