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In der Sprachkolonie: Franz Kafka's world and the limits of language

Dissertation
Author: Rebecca Schuman
Abstract:
It is often our goal to ask what Kafka's works "mean." I investigate instead how he conceives the relationship between language and meaning altogether. For the inhabitants of Kafka's fictional universes use language in a way that forces into question the conceit of linguistic expression itself. To argue this I turn to writers beyond those we normally associate with the Austrian Sprachkrise of the turn of the 20th Century. Texts dealing directly and primarily with language consciousness, such as Hofmannsthal's Ein Brief and Rilke's Duineser Elegien, certainly challenge referential theories of linguistic expression of aesthetic or ethical truth. But in Kafka, failure of referential meaning is the precondition for his best-known dramatic conflicts--conflicts that do not, at first, even appear to be about language (Josef K.'s seemingly-juridical predicament in Der Prozess, for example). In my first chapter, I show that without the analytic language philosophy preceding and during the Sprachkrise, our rendering of Kafka's unique dramatizations of the crisis of expression remains incomplete. In my second chapter, I uncover links between narrative representations of meaning, truth and ambiguity in Der Prozess and the language philosophy of Gottlob Frege, without whose work the Sprachkrise 's major intellects would have been lacking systematic precedent; in my third, I move on to the early work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and explore the "limits of language" as they are reached and confronted in both the Tractatus logico-philosophicus and Kafka's Die Verwandlung ; in my fourth and final chapter, I demonstrate a common current between the Officer's fate in Kafka's Strafkolonie and the paradoxes of ostensive definition and rule-following as "played" in the language-games of Wittgenstein's Philosophische Untersuchungen. Through the development of these chapters I show how several of the most radical ideas of early analytic language philosophy emerge in Kafka's fictional worlds, and thereby demonstrate themselves with an urgency and immediacy unavailable to the philosophical medium. In this way I also show that a study of the analytic tradition is necessary for the richest possible understanding of Kafka's place in the Sprachkrise.

  Contents

Acknowledgements..............................................................................................................i Curriculum Vitae................................................................................................................ii Abstract of the Dissertation...............................................................................................iii

Introduction..........................................................................................................................1 I: Kafka, Language Skepticism and Philosophy..................................................................9 II: Josef K.’s Sin(n)s: Der Prozess and the Indictment of Referentiality..........................47 III: That of Which we Cannot Speak, we Must Call ‘Ungeziefer’: The Tractatus, Die Verwandlung and the Limits of Metaphorical Language....................................102 IV: Investigations in the Sprachkolonie: Narrative Rule-Following and Failed Execution on Kafka’s Island.................................................................................................166 Conclusion.......................................................................................................................227

Works Cited.....................................................................................................................230

i

Acknowledgements

I would first like to thank my adviser, Kai Evers, whose astonishing intellect, encyclopedic knowledge and acceptance of nothing less the outer limitations of one’s abilities and endurance made this dissertation, and my development into a scholar, possible. I also remain heavily indebted to the stellar scholarship, wisdom and insight of my committee members, David Pan and John H. Smith; to John I also wish to express my gratitude for granting me permission to cite “Making Sense(s),” an unpublished conference paper, whose insights are pivotal to the argument of my second chapter. I would also like to acknowledge UC Irvine German faculty members Anke Biendarra, Glenn Levine and Gail Hart, as well as my graduate colleagues, past and present: Eric Blankenship, Kurt Buhanan, Natalie Eppelsheimer, Jonathan Fine, Erin Hourigan, Rose Jones, Rica Kaufel, Simona Moti, Jason Wilby and Jessica Wood.

In 2005-2006, I was fortunate to receive both the UC Irvine Chancellor’s Fellowship and a Center for Writing and Translation Summer Study Grant. I was also lucky enough to have an adviser who found my colleague Simona Moti and me worthy of sharing a Summer 2008 grant for student-faculty research collaboration. I thank Dr. Lonnie Johnson, Ulrike Seiss and the AAEC (Austrian Fulbright Commission) for the IFK/Fulbright Research Grant I received in 2008-2009, which allowed me to spend that year in Vienna, Austria, working as a Junior Fellow at the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften (IFK) in Vienna under the direction of Prof. Helmut Lethen. Finally, I am grateful to have received a UC Irvine Dissertation Year Fellowship for 2009-2010.

I also benefitted tremendously from the feedback of Jeremy Heis and Brian Rogers in the UC Irvine department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, and Jason Willwerscheid in the department of Comparative Literature. Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the usually priceless (but intermittently material) contributions of Waldemar Rohloff and my family.

ii

Curriculum Vitae

Rebecca Schuman

1998: A.B. in English and German, Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY) 2002: M.F.A. in Fiction Writing, New School University (New York, NY) 2005: M.A. in Humanities and Social Thought, New York University (New York, NY) 2008-2009: Fulbright/IFK Junior Fellowship, Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften (Vienna, Austria) 2010: Ph.D. in German, University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)

Field of Study

Early 20 th Century German-Language Literature, Philosophical Approaches

Published Work

“The Mirror and the Tower: Specularity and Masculinity in Klinger’s Die Zwillinge and Gerstenberg’s Ugolino.” Symposium 63:2 (2009), 127-144.

iii

Abstract of the Dissertation

In der Sprachkolonie: Franz Kafka’s World and the Limits of Language

By Rebecca Schuman Doctor of Philosophy in German University of California, Irvine, 2010 Professor Kai Evers, Chair

It is often our goal to ask what Kafka’s works “mean.” I investigate instead how he conceives the relationship between language and meaning altogether. For the inhabitants of Kafka’s fictional universes use language in a way that forces into question the conceit of linguistic expression itself. To argue this I turn to writers beyond those we normally associate with the Austrian Sprachkrise of the turn of the 20 th Century. Texts dealing directly and primarily with language consciousness, such as Hofmannsthal’s Ein Brief and Rilke’s Duineser Elegien, certainly challenge referential theories of linguistic expression of aesthetic or ethical truth. But in Kafka, failure of referential meaning is the precondition for his best-known dramatic conflicts—conflicts that do not, at first, even appear to be about language (Josef K.’s seemingly-juridical predicament in Der Prozess, for example). In my first chapter, I show that without the analytic language philosophy preceding and during the Sprachkrise, our rendering of Kafka’s unique dramatizations of the crisis of expression remains incomplete.

iv In my second chapter, I uncover links between narrative representations of meaning, truth and ambiguity in Der Prozess and the language philosophy of Gottlob Frege, without whose work the Sprachkrise’s major intellects would have been lacking systematic precedent; in my third, I move on to the early work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and explore the “limits of language” as they are reached and confronted in both the Tractatus logico-philosophicus and Kafka’s Die Verwandlung; in my fourth and final chapter, I demonstrate a common current between the Officer’s fate in Kafka’s Strafkolonie and the paradoxes of ostensive definition and rule-following as “played” in the language-games of Wittgenstein’s Philosophische Untersuchungen. Through the development of these chapters I show how several of the most radical ideas of early analytic language philosophy emerge in Kafka’s fictional worlds, and thereby demonstrate themselves with an urgency and immediacy unavailable to the philosophical medium. In this way I also show that a study of the analytic tradition is necessary for the richest possible understanding of Kafka’s place in the Sprachkrise.

1

Überhaupt hat der Fortschritt das an sich, daß er viel größer ausschaut, als er wirklich ist.

—Johann Nepomunk Nestroy, Der Schützling —Motto, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophische Untersuchungen

Introduction

Franz Kafka was only Austrian by the most technical of standards, and then only for half of his life, and his works Der Prozess, Die Verwandlung and In der Strafkolonie are not—on the surface—about a “crisis of language.” Der Prozess is nominally about a colossal and deadly juridical farce; Die Verwandlung details the travails of a man-sized “vermin;” In der Strafkolonie is a great and tragic love story between a man and his torture apparatus. And yet, Kafka is often considered part of the Austrian Sprachkrise of the early 20 th Century, alongside Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Rainer Maria Rilke, Fritz Mauthner and Karl Kraus. This dissertation is an unconventional exploration of why, to what extent, and according to which (if any) paradigms this is the case, unconventional in that uses primarily sources from the analytic tradition in its explorations. While the majority of Kafka scholarship seeks to make inroads on what Der Prozess, Die Verwandlung, In der Strafkolonie and other works of his “mean,” this project argues instead that we would be better served by first examining how his work portrays the act of meaning in (and with) prose fiction writing itself. For Kafka’s “language crisis” is less a crisis and more an expression of a complex language skepticism—a skepticism that

2 calls into question both the referential capabilities of language and the perceptive capabilities of its users. The nuanced notion of language skepticism, and Kafka’s place in it, are in fact the subject of this dissertation’s first chapter. In it, I explore Kafka’s varying and mysterious views on language and expression, drawing upon both diary entries and fictional portrayals. I first situate his work within a small but powerful literary and philosophical tradition that includes writers with whom his work is often associated: the language philosophers Karl Kraus and Fritz Mauthner, and the literary figures Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Rainer Maria Rilke. Each of these thinkers contends in some way with linguistic expression: some wrestle with the questionable power of language itself to express anything at all (Mauthner), others with its inability to express anything emotionally or spiritually important (Rilke, Hofmannsthal); yet others attack the ability of language’s users to use it correctly (Kraus). Many of Kafka’s works display at least one or more of these aspects of language skepticism—but they also display something else entirely: a radical, some would say “resolute” skepticism of every aspect of linguistic expression, from the literal signification process most of us take for granted every day (which I usually will call “referential meaning”), to the more literary process of “metaphorical meaning,” to the very ability of a work of prose narration to make sense as such. These are radical claims deserving a radical approach, and this approach comes in the inclusion of two figures stemming all or in part from the analytic tradition in philosophy: Gottlob Frege, whom many literary critics might deem wholly unsuitable for literary study altogether, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, whose more palatable work has appeared in literary criticism before. Many passages of this dissertation’s first chapter are

3 charged with defining the sometimes-slippery terminology that will be necessary to distinguish literature from philosophy, and with situating Kafka’s work amidst philosophical texts such as Frege’s “Über Sinn und Bedeutung.” This Frege essay creates the critical framework for this dissertation’s second chapter, which offers an exploration of literal referential meaning (or lack thereof) in the narrated universe of Kafka’s Der Prozess. Despite concentrating on a Fregean concept— referential meaning, and at times in particular the difference between “sense” (Sinn) and “reference” (Bedeutung), it is important to note straightaway that at no point in this project do I claim that Kafka himself is a knowingly Fregean philosopher who knowingly drafts Fregean allegories. Rather, I aim to show that within the narrative universe Kafka has created, his characters, especially Josef K., encounter a few astonishingly stark difficulties with representation, referentiality and truth (two concepts that are first fleshed out in detail). All of these difficulties are well served by elucidating Frege’s own struggles with them, in addition to the existing philosophical and critical comparisons currently widely made (to Nietzsche, or to Freud, for example). By highlighting both the applicability and, at times, inapplicability of Frege’s ideas and “solutions” to quandaries of referential meaning—how, for example, an utterance can have multiple “senses” but only one “reference”—insights arise into both the fictional and philosophical movements each author makes. The core of Josef K.’s “problem” in Der Prozess is that he has—and we have— been looking at his trial, and especially its fundamental action—K.’s arrest—from within the wrong parameters. That is, K. is sentenced to death and executed (willingly, it seems, at the end) not because he possesses some form of pre-existing guilt that he (and we)

4 were not clever enough to recognize from the beginning, but because the semantic organization of his arrest—by the Court, by Kafka’s semi-limited narrator, and by K. himself—precludes the faintest chance of exoneration even from the beginning. We will soon see that much of the novel’s action centers on the misguided presumption that we must provide K.’s arrest with a context of judgable duality (“either he is innocent or he is guilty”). In the end, we will find instead that while Josef K. dies without ever having been proclaimed “guilty,” the very concept of referential meaning in his universe has itself been indicted, tried, convicted, and executed. The themes unearthed in this study of Der Prozess reemerge in the stories Die Verwandlung and In der Strafkolonie, and this time in conjunction not with Frege’s philosophy but with Wittgenstein’s (the earlier of which, the Tractatus logico- philosophicus, represents Wittgenstein’s own interaction with and development out of the same Fregean concepts we discuss here). With referential theories of meaning running up against a starkly skeptical portrayal, Der Prozess’s approach to reference will have effectively nixed it as a viable description of how (and, once again, most definitely not “what”) some of Kafka’s works mean. Because literary works are often instead thought to “mean” metaphorically (thus taking literal reference off the proverbial hook), an exploration of the limits of metaphorical meaning—of Kafka’s continuing skepticism on that front—is the next logical step. Thus, in this dissertation’s third chapter I explore Wittgenstein’s idea of the limits of language (from TLP 5.6: “Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt”) as it relates to Kafka’s Verwandlung; specifically, to Kafka’s own confrontation of the limits of his language, a metaphorical language. I am quite concerned with Kafka’s

5 use of—and play with—literary metaphor, examples of which appear throughout the story, foremost in the physical conception of its main character Gregor Samsa. This is in stark contrast to the ultra-literalism of my approach to the narrative universe of Der Prozess, and my focus on literary device in the story may seem to detract from the literal conflict at hand: the understandable familial struggles of a salesman who has woken up with the body of a monster. However, as the chapter progresses from the metaphor theory of, among others, Stanley Corngold, Günter Anders, Max Black, Derrida, and Donald Davidson, it will become clear that, at very least, certain of Kafka’s metaphors (predominantly that of Gregor Samsa’s body itself) are actually part of the literal narration, and thus inescapable even when attempting a purely literal reading. I first make a distinction between the metaphors Kafka employs that “work” as metaphors, and those that do not; that is, between successful and “unsuccessful” metaphor. In displaying both kinds Kafka has, I will argue, either intentionally or coincidently run up against the “limits” of this particular literary device. That is, he has shown the parameters that can be put in place to make this device cease to work. Further, this has only been possible through the device’s use—through the form of metaphor, but not through its content; through what metaphor shows, but not what it says. And it is precisely the act of showing the limits of (a certain kind of) language within that language that evokes a striking parallel to Wittgenstein’s philosophy: namely Wittgenstein’s own confrontation with “die Grenzen [sein]er Sprache” in the Tractatus. On the other hand, in the later Wittgenstein—after he reapproached philosophy following a decade of self-imposed philosophical silence in the Austrian countryside— the dilemma of referential meaning reappears as the “paradox of ostensive definition” in

6 the Philosophische Untersuchungen (in §28). To understand what any utterance means— and this utterance can be literal or metaphorical—one must first understand how it means. But one of the many differences between the Untersuchungen and Wittgenstein’s earlier work is that instead of a fixed extralinguistic “logische Form der Wirklichkeit” one must inherently grasp to understand language, it is simply an utterance’s use in context, “sein Gebrauch in der Sprache,” that grants it meaning (§43). Whereas, then, the previous two chapters dealt with two aspects of referential or quasi-referential meaning (the metaphorical gesture being first conceived as something that still “points” in a particular direction), the fourth chapter of this project addresses what seems to be Kafka’s last chance to avoid radical language skepticism: a theory of meaning in use, either within the context of a philosophical remark or a prose narrative. While the previous chapter concentrated on the so-called early Wittgenstein (an identification that is controversial, as we will see), this chapter illuminates the perplexing narrative of In der Strafkolonie using Wittgenstein’s other, later major public published work, the Philosophische Untersuchungen. While the Tractatus is a compact, austere set of numbered propositions, the Untersuchungen re an epic, labyrinthine collection of vaguely cross-referenced remarks, one that Wittgenstein himself suggested be taken as a collection of “Landschaftsskizzen” rather than a “Lehrbuch” (PU, Intro 1). The culminating event of In der Strafkolonie is the officer’s suicide using the machine he has spent the bulk of the story describing in adulatory tones, tones that fall on the largely unappreciative ears of the visiting explorer. When the officer kills himself, the machine is set to do what it ostensibly does to the prisoners it normally executes: inscribe a sentence onto his body for twelve hours, so that the true significance of the law

7 he has transgressed dawns upon him slowly and physically (Gesammelte Werke 1:169). Instead, however, the machine “malfunctions,” simply impaling its greatest adherent in an act that can no longer be considered martyrdom or sacrifice. The argument of this dissertation’s fourth and final chapter is deceptively simple: it does not purport to discover what this act could possibly mean; instead I argue that the act does not mean in a literary sense, i.e. that it cannot be interpreted. The larger debate surrounding Wittgenstein’s Untersuchungen—one that asks if they advance philosophical theses at all, or if Wittgenstein instead abandoned all philosophical expression after and with the Tractatus—helps to link his text to Kafka’s Strafkolonie in another fashion. This Wittgenstein debate draws upon not just the text of the Untersuchungen, but its motto, a quote from Der Schützling, Johann Nepomunk Nestroy’s “Posse mit Gesang,” which attests: “Überhaupt hat der Fortschritt das an sich, daß er viel größer ausschaut, als er wirklich ist” (Nestroy 4.1). The unreliability of philosophical “progress” in Wittgenstein’s work highlights the unreliability of narrative “progress” in Kafka’s, a theoretical approach that draws upon the criticism of Klaus Scherpe, who argues that in Kafka, the act of description (Beschreiben) is of greater importance to the outcome than the act of narration (Erzählen), which is an act that both presupposes causality and progress (again, Fortschritt) and normally serves to give a narrative cohesion. In highlighting Kafka’s spectacular failure of execution, narrative and penal, this dissertation thus provides a third and final manner in which Kafka’s fiction demonstrates a skepticism of language and expression. Because, then, it seems Kafka’s work has, in at least one dramatic instance for each method of expression, denied itself

8 referential, metaphorical or contextual (narrative) meaning, it can be considered truly radically skeptical.

9

I.

Kafka, Language Skepticism and Philosophy

The preoccupation with and approach to the relationship between language and meaning in Kafka’s work contains overlapping tendencies with the work of primarily Austrian writers and philosophers associated more readily with the Sprachkrise of the early 20 th

Century: Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Rainer Maria Rilke, Karl Kraus, and Fritz Mauthner. However, it is one particular tradition whose approaches seem to have both the most to offer this inquiry and the least existing scholarship: early analytic philosophy of language. This includes not only Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus logico-philosophicus (published in 1922, three years before Max Brod oversaw the posthumous publication of Der Prozess) and Philosophische Untersuchungen, but also, to a lesser but crucial extent, Gottlob Frege’s slightly earlier philosophy of logic, language and mathematics as expressed in the Begriffschrift, Grundlagen der Arithmetik and “Über Sinn und Bedeutung,” all of which appeared in the last two decades of the 19 th Century. As such, the philosophical approaches I take mention names we rarely encounter in literary

10 discussions and terminology we usually encounter in a different context. This is because, as we will come to see after exploring in more depth Frege’s theories of referential meaning and Wittgenstein’s remarks on logical structure and “meaning in use,” the full richness of Kafka’s language skepticism—in fact, his entire characterization as a radical language skeptic—is only possible when we include these pioneering, often overlooked and highly influential theories of meaning. Because, however, the analytic tradition may at first appear antithetical to the politically-infused work of Kraus, for example (not to mention wholly irrelevant to the literature of Hofmannsthal, Rilke and especially Kafka), it is imperative to solidify this project’s particular use of certain terms having to do with Wittgenstein and Frege preemptively, even though to do so involves jumping directly to the philosophical center of the project with little prelude. This is, however, both brief and necessary due to the ubiquity (and slippery meaning) of the terms it discusses. Much of the language-skeptical literary and philosophical output from around the turn of the 20 th Century (a vague designation that includes both late Frege and early Wittgenstein) concerns the dismay at discovering that human language is somehow incapable of expressing truth. This seems complicated enough without the added problem (or, some might say, the apt and poetic demonstration of this exact discovery) that for every author or thinker whose work follows, the words “truth” and “language” seem to correspond to different things.

“Truth” and “language” in and out of literature Frege, to begin with, explains in “Über Sinn und Bedeutung” that the “Streben nach Wahrheit ist es, was uns überall vom Sinn zur Bedeutung vorzudringen treibt” (SB 33).

11 Thus the entire reason for developing the distinction between Sinn and Bedeutung (“sense” and “reference,” whose details I shall introduce momentarily) is a striving for truth. 1 But this is not the metaphysical or absolute “truth” it might appear to be out of context: Frege is talking about the ability of language to correspond to mathematical and scientific truth, objective truth, the truth of logical equations and factual data with which he, as a philosopher primarily of logic and mathematics, was concerned. To further complicate matters, we should also be aware that for Frege—and the early Wittgenstein after him—it is not even so much the search for “truth” in language that preoccupies him, but truth value (Wahrheitswert), merely the assurance that truth (or its opposite) is possible. These are not the same parameters we usually associate with analyzing a work of literature. For as Frege himself argued in determining the work of fiction’s lack of referential meaning (its Bedeutung), made-up narratives, such as and including all of those with which this project concerns itself, simply cannot be subjected to the same truth criteria as scientific facts. The relevance of “fictional truth” to Frege’s conceptions of Wahrheitswert (and through it, Wahrheit)—will be discussed in far more detail momentarily. But it is certainly worth being aware that any use of Frege’s concept of “truth” immediately presupposes the need to address the differences between scientific and literary truth—the latter being the metatextual “meaning” of a text, which is not the                                                                                                                 1 Frege’s “Streben nach Wahrheit” is an odd, though categorically distinct, point of overlap with another philosopher writing around the same time whose views on language and truth are far better known in literary study: Nietzsche. Although, as I will discuss momentarily, Nietzsche will define “Wahrheit” as a “moving army of metaphors,” that is at all times contrasted with is constant references to the philosopher’s obsessive “Wille zur Wahrheit,” as in the opening of Jenseits von Gut und Böse: “Der Wille zur Wahrheit, der uns noch zu manchem Wagnisse verführen wird, jene berühmte Wahrhaftigkeit, von der alle Philosophen bisher mit Ehrerbietung geredet haben: was für Fragen hat dieser Wille zur Wahrheit uns schon vorgelegt!” (JGB 7). The vastly opposing directions of these philosophers’ attitude toward a motivation to find “truth”—taken in earnest, as in Frege, or skewered and dismantled, as in Nietzsche—serve to characterize rather succinctly the so-called analytic/Continental schism in the philosophical discipline.

12 same as “fictional truth” (which is, as we will see, simply what is reasonably considered to be “true within the story”). “Meaning” is again not of tremendous concern to this project, given that its primary qualification is to set aside the quest for what Kafka’s works “mean,” and concentrate instead on how they mean. In the case of the chapters of Der Prozess I argue display Fregean themes, this “how” is further limited to how they mean on a purely literal level. This will be extremely important, given that Frege’s connection between Wahrheitswert and Bedeutung is the foundation of Wittgenstein’s conception of whether or not a proposition makes “sense.” For to further complicate an already-complicated situation, the word Wittgenstein uses for “proposition” is far less technical and logically oriented than its English translation: it is Satz, “sentence,” and implies relevance not only to the sciences and mathematics, but to philosophy, ethics and aesthetics as well. It is the far reach of Satz—and its possession or lack of Wahrheitswert—that determines sensicality for the “early” Wittgenstein of the Tractatus logico-philosophicus. And thus, though the capability of language to express truth is absolutely paramount—and the early Wittgenstein’s rejection of this capability in all contexts outside the natural and mathematical sciences the culminating point of the Tractatus—for the early Wittgenstein it is sensicality, rather than “truth,” that is the most important element of philosophical language. The discussions of sensicality (and its opposite), and their relationship to truth value, as they are played out in Kafka’s fictional universes (specifically those of Die Verwandlung and In der Strafkolonie), will certainly challenge the contextual constraints of these uses of “truth” (and “truth value”), but without at least a preliminary understanding of their origins, the project has no grounding.

13 The loadedness of the term “truth” is comparable to that of the word “language,” especially in a project that purports to use the philosophy of language—which normally deals only with the language of everyday conversation, philosophy, logic and the sciences—to understand the language of literature (or, at least the language in literature). Texts in the philosophy of language make a nearly-universally-agreed-upon distinction between ideal and ordinary language philosophy. The “Streben nach Wahrheit” Frege undertakes in “Über Sinn und Bedeutung,” the Wittgenstein of the Tractatus—these detail the search for an “ideal” language, one whose elements actually and unambiguously refer to objects and states of affairs in the world. 2 The later Wittgenstein of the Philosophische Untersuchungen, on the other hand, has been classified by some (but not all) Wittgenstein scholars as belonging more to the world of “ordinary language philosophy.” 3 This is due to innumerable factors, chief among them the assertion in PU §116 that Wittgenstein is attempting to “return” language from its metaphysical to its “everyday use,” and the earlier assertion of §43 that “die Bedeutung eines Wortes ist sein Gebrauch in der Sprache.” Broadly speaking, then, “ideal” language is logically perspicuous (that is, necessarily lacking ambiguity, and therefore almost entirely esoteric), and “ordinary” language is what people actually speak (and its meaning somehow results only from that use). This distinction is convoluted enough without the entry of the “literary.” Can the term “literary language” even be defined to anyone’s satisfaction? What about “literary                                                                                                                 2 For a more extensive take on the historical period in the philosophy of language most closely characterized as “ideal language philosophy” (often crossing over with Logical Positivism) see, for example, several of the essays by Carnap and Rorty himself in Richard Rorty’s classic compendium The Linguistic Turn: Recent Essays in Philosophical Method. 3 For a more involved look at ordinary language philosophy and Wittgenstein (as well as J.L. Austin and Stanley Cavell), see Richard Fleming’s recent First Word Philosophy.

14 truth?” Frege, for one, believed that all fictional sentences were necessarily bedeutungslos (reference-less), as they have no actual reference in the world and thus no truth-value. 4 But more contemporary work in the philosophy of literature has recognized the concept of “fictional truth” as far more complex than the oxymoron it seems to be: there must be some sort of meaning-system, Michael Rifarterre argues in Fictional Truths, to separate the concept of fictional discourse from pure lies—for fiction “specifically, but not always explicitly, excludes the intention to deceive” (1). There is, to be sure, a primary act of meaning carried out by fiction that is different than what we carry out in casual conversation: as Gregory Currie describes it, fiction’s primary purpose is to get its reader to “make believe the content of the story that is told” (Davies and Matheson 33). While many of us in Kafka studies may assume that the real “truths” of his fiction lie outside the texts, it should not be forgotten that the stories themselves contain plots, characters, and (ostensible, if invisible and morphing) rules, all of which constitute what John Searle has called a “horizontal” system of referentiality and Rifarterre refers to as the internal-meaning-granting power of “verisimilitude” (Davies and Matheson 15, Rifarterre VIII). It is possible, Searle says, “for an author to use words literally and yet not be committed in accordance with the rules that attach to the literal meaning of those words”—the question is not if fiction possesses a truth value (of its own kind, different than a scientific truth value), but how (15). The answer is through pretended illocutionary acts—through “actually performing utterance acts with the intention of invoking the                                                                                                                 4 Frege posits that although we can be sure a sentence such as “Odysseus wurde tief schlafend in Ithaka ans Land gesetztt” has Sinn, since Odysseus is not a real person, the sentence has no reference and thus no objective truth value; Frege also points out that because this is a fictional sentence, the lack of truth value does not and should not matter with regard to understanding the sentence; a sentence, especially in fiction, can potentially be “understood” without a reference (SB 33-34).

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Abstract: It is often our goal to ask what Kafka's works "mean." I investigate instead how he conceives the relationship between language and meaning altogether. For the inhabitants of Kafka's fictional universes use language in a way that forces into question the conceit of linguistic expression itself. To argue this I turn to writers beyond those we normally associate with the Austrian Sprachkrise of the turn of the 20th Century. Texts dealing directly and primarily with language consciousness, such as Hofmannsthal's Ein Brief and Rilke's Duineser Elegien, certainly challenge referential theories of linguistic expression of aesthetic or ethical truth. But in Kafka, failure of referential meaning is the precondition for his best-known dramatic conflicts--conflicts that do not, at first, even appear to be about language (Josef K.'s seemingly-juridical predicament in Der Prozess, for example). In my first chapter, I show that without the analytic language philosophy preceding and during the Sprachkrise, our rendering of Kafka's unique dramatizations of the crisis of expression remains incomplete. In my second chapter, I uncover links between narrative representations of meaning, truth and ambiguity in Der Prozess and the language philosophy of Gottlob Frege, without whose work the Sprachkrise 's major intellects would have been lacking systematic precedent; in my third, I move on to the early work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and explore the "limits of language" as they are reached and confronted in both the Tractatus logico-philosophicus and Kafka's Die Verwandlung ; in my fourth and final chapter, I demonstrate a common current between the Officer's fate in Kafka's Strafkolonie and the paradoxes of ostensive definition and rule-following as "played" in the language-games of Wittgenstein's Philosophische Untersuchungen. Through the development of these chapters I show how several of the most radical ideas of early analytic language philosophy emerge in Kafka's fictional worlds, and thereby demonstrate themselves with an urgency and immediacy unavailable to the philosophical medium. In this way I also show that a study of the analytic tradition is necessary for the richest possible understanding of Kafka's place in the Sprachkrise.