Schiller and Wittgenstein

If you’re looking for proto-Wittgenstein parallels from the era of German Idealism, this one seems pithy enough to me:

Warum kann der lebendige Geist dem Geist nicht erscheinen?
Spricht die Seele, so spricht ach! schon die Seele nicht mehr.

Why can’t the living spirit manifest itself to the spirit?
If the soul speaks, alas, it is no longer the soul that speaks.

(Schiller, “Sprache”)

There’s a thread straight through to Hofmannsthal and Wittgenstein (early and late).


  1. nightspore
    23 April 2007

    That’s pretty great. And yet LW says that the best picture of the human soul is the human face.

  2. jonas
    23 April 2007

    nun, dies hier ist wohl eine arkadische landschaft an bäumen, büschen u grashalmen, die ich des öfteren aufsuchen werde, würzige luft zu atmen…

  3. Mr. Waggish
    23 April 2007

    The face does not speak…it shows!

  4. antonia
    24 April 2007

    yet there is a statement from Wittgenstein in which he says that he was not so convinced about Schillers contributions to philosophy…W says Schiller has had the understanding but he did not make something out of it, developed somethign out of this insight….I tend to agree with W here, myself not such a big fan of Schiller…
    that’s in volume 8 of the suhrkampedition page 543 (and elsewhere)

  5. Mr. Waggish
    26 April 2007

    No, I’m not a Schiller fan myself; if we can get pica in here I’m sure she would have something to say about Schiller falling prey to the “Oldest Programme for a System of German Idealism.” I feel that things are always too easy in Schiller. (Likewise with Adorno.) And so the promise of this little epigram isn’t fulfilled.

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