Max Scheler: A Concise Introduction into the World of a Great Thinker

Max Scheler: A Concise Introduction into the World of a Great Thinker

Max Scheler: A Concise Introduction into the World of a Great Thinker

Max Scheler: A Concise Introduction into the World of a Great Thinker

Excerpt

There can be no doubt that presentations of contemporary European philosophy in the English language, at once scholarly and philosophical, are few in number. This pertains both to the history of contemporary thought in Europe as well as to presentations of the philosophy of individual thinkers. However many reasons for this situation there may be, there are two which appear to be foremost.

Firstly, there is the well-known language problem. It is true that contemporary European philosophy is not easy to read. This holds true especially with respect to German philosophy. It has often been said that the complexity of both sentence structure and word formation is more a burden than it is a necessity as to the understanding of certain contemporary thinkers, and that indeed many a thought could have been more easily formulated than in fact had been done. However true this may be in individual cases it is certainly not true as a general statement. For both existentialist and phenomenological terminologies, which mark the better part of European philosophy today, are neither one of choice nor one of willful construction. Rather, this terminology is determined by the respective subject matter itself. Since essential states of affairs, immediate envisagement, as well as an exhibition thereof, cannot be subject to definition in the strict scientific sense of the term, language expressions are by necessity complicated and often alogical.

In addition to this it is especially the German language which lends itself to always new word-formations and creations, by virtue of the nature of this language. Hence, an approach to comprehend certain German thinkers in another language than theirs always implies extremely difficult problems of translation. It is these which seem to have been often too much neglected in the past. A brief look at the history of translations of many of the works of Nietzsche, for example, will quickly verify that the understanding of his thinking in the English speaking world is still far from being rounded due to the fact that there exist translations of many important passages that either put the original text in a false light or do not even make sense. It is necessary for the understanding of contemporary European philosophy to read the original texts, and to use translations only secondarily.

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