“Reality” in Early Twentieth-century German Literature

Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures 16:41-57 (1983)
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Among the most striking aspects of modern literature—expecially of modern German literature—are its frequent references to a notion called ‘reality’. The philosophical question this raises, ‘What is reality?’, is to one side of this enquiry, and so is the question whether or not this is a sensible question: this essay is intended as a contribution not to philosophy but to its connections with literary history and criticism. My present purpose, which determines my procedure, is to outline the various closely related meanings of the word ‘Wirklichkeit’ throughout its very long history; to describe the polarization of meanings which occurred in the course of the nineteenth century, and Nietzsche's part in making the new polarity available to his literary heirs; to illustrate the way German literature became involved in this process in the first decade of our century; and, finally, to point to some of its political implications. My argument is part of a much larger topic, one that is not confined either to the German-speaking countries or indeed to literature. The topic, the ideologizing of ‘ reality ’, is relevant to all modern cultures. The present paper offers no more than a sketch of this development in one cultural area of our world



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Jon Stern
City University London

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Leibnitz and the Seventeenth-Century Revolution.R. W. Meyer & J. P. Stern - 1953 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 4 (15):256-258.

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