Reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s Human all too human
Read the introduction here
You can read the aphorism I discuss here below the main article.
The German word Miterklingen, the title of this aphorism, is not a real German word as far as I can find out. In the English translation by Alexander Harvey he had a note: “Miterklingen: to sound simultaneously with” I agree with that, in one word it would be something like: withsounds. I don’t know why the translators didn’t took the freedom to invent a word like Nietzsche did.
For this aphorism I also included the other 3 translation that I use from Harvey (1909), Hollingdale (1986) and Handwerk (1997). For convenience, and the interested, I put every sentence side by side, so you can compare the different translations easier. There are no big surprises that influences the message of this aphorism, besides the last word “thing” but it is interesting to see the differences and the freedom the translators took.
Synopsis and my take on it:
Al strong moods bring ripples of similar moods with them, they mix up your memory. In the mix you recognize “similar conditions and their origin”, there are quick connections made of “feelings and thoughts” and are felt as one and not separate. “In this sense one speaks of the moral feeling, of the religious feeling, as if they were absolute unities: in reality they are streams with a hundred sources and tributaries.”. “Here also, as so often happens, the unity of the word is no security for the unity of the thing1.” With this last sentence Nietzsche puts the aphorism a little bit on its head but I think he meant: The “word” is like the mood, also accompanied by other similar words and meanings, when describing an “thing” with words that also are blurred by their meaning the “thing” itself gets blurred.
In one sentence:
Complex moods feel like one, but are not, like words.
1The German word “sache” is translated by all four as “thing” but I think it’s more a word between a “thing” and a “case”, maybe entity. In the Dutch translation it is translated as “zaak” and that can mean a thing, but also a case but also a cross between the two.
Download the word document here: CO-ECHOING
Human, all too human a book for free spirits Part I translated by Helen Zimmern 1909
- CO-ECHOING.—All stronger moods bring with them a co-echoing of kindred sensations and moods, they grub up the memory, so to speak. Along with them something within us remembers and becomes conscious of similar conditions and their origin. Thus there are formed quick habitual connections of feelings and thoughts, which eventually, when they follow each other with lightning speed, are no longer felt as complexes but as unities. In this sense one speaks of the moral feeling, of the religious feeling, as if they were absolute unities : in reality they are streams with a hundred sources and tributaries. Here also, as so often happens, the unity of the word is no security for the unity of the thing.
Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by Alexander Harvey, 1908
Association.—All strong feelings are associated with a variety of allied sentiments and emotions. They stir up the memory at the same time. When we are under their influence we are reminded of similar states and we feel a renewal of them within us. Thus are formed habitual successions of feelings and notions, which, at last, when they follow one another with lightning rapidity are no longer felt as complexities but as unities. In this sense we hear of moral feelings, of religious feelings, as if they were absolute unities. In reality they are streams with a hundred sources and tributaries. Here again, the unity of the word speaks nothing for the unity of the thing.
Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by R.J.Hollingdale, 1986
14 Sympathetic resonance. – All stronger moods bring with them a sympathetic resonance on the part of related sensations and moods: they as it were root up the memory. Something in us is provoked to recollection and becomes aware of similar states and their origins. Thus there come to be constructed habitual rapid connections between feelings and thoughts which, if they succeed one another with lightning speed, are in the end no longer experienced as complexes but as unities. It is in this sense that one speaks of the moral feelings, of the religious feelings, as though these were simple unities: in truth, however, they are rivers with a hundred tributaries and sources. Here too, as so often, the unity of the word is no guarantee of the unity of the thing.
Human, all too human a book for free spirits I V3, translated by Gary Handwerk 1997
Resonances, – All stronger moods bring along with them a resonance of related sensations and moods; they churn up our memory, as it were. They bring something to mind, making us conscious of similar states and their origins. In this way habitual, rapid associations of feelings and thoughts are formed, which finally, when they follow after one another with lightning speed, are no longer even sensed as complex, but rather as unities. In this sense, we speak of moral feelings, of religious feelings, as if these were nothing but unities: in truth, they are streams with a hundred sources and tributaries. Here, too, as so often, the unity of the word guarantees nothing about the unity of the thing.
Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80
- Miterklingen. – Alle stärkeren Stimmungen bringen ein Miterklingen verwandter Empfindungen und Stimmungen mit sich; sie wühlen gleichsam das Gedächtniss auf. Es erinnert sich bei ihnen Etwas in uns und wird sich ähnlicher Zustände und deren Herkunft bewusst. So bilden sich angewöhnte rasche Verbindungen von Gefühlen und Gedanken, welche zuletzt, wenn sie blitzschnell hinter einander erfolgen, nicht einmal mehr als Complexe, sondern als Einheiten empfunden werden. In diesem Sinne redet man vom moralischen Gefühle, vom religiösen Gefühle, wie als ob diess lauter Einheiten seien: in Wahrheit sind sie Ströme mit hundert Quellen und Zuflüssen. Auch hier, wie so oft, verbürgt die Einheit des Wortes Nichts für die Einheit der Sache.
I will read a Dutch translation that is based on the work of researchers Colli and Montinari. I also use a translation from R.J.Hollingdale and the Gary Handwerk translation from the Colli-Montinari edition. Both are more modern than the copyright free translation I use here. This is a translation from 1909 by Helen Zimmern, who knew Nietzsche personally, but there was no critical study of Nietzsche’s work done back then and this translation suffers from that. The same goes for the translation from Alexander Harvey. My German is not good enough to pretend that I can translate it better than the professionals do but I will use the original as a referee.
- Menselijk al te menselijk een boek voor vrije geesten, translated by Thomas Graftdijk, 2000. Buy it here
- Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by R.J.Hollingdale, 1986
- Human, all too human a book for free spirits I V3, translated by Gary handwerk 1997
- Human, all too human a book for free spirits Part I, translated by Helen Zimmern 1909. Read it here
- Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by Alexander Harvey, 1908. Read it here
- Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80. Read it here