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Bert Tells What He Reads. Robert Musil. Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften. BOOK ONE. Chapter medical-site.info single out from the immense wealth of Der Mann ohne Eigenschajten: Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, which occupied Musil all the rest of his life, was begun. PDF | On Mar 1, , Enrique Bernárdez Sanchís and others published Simile: Its Comparaciones explícitas con "wie" en Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften de.

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Mann Ohne Eigenschaften Pdf

Chapter 2: The critical-utopian aspect of Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften. 1. Behalve in het hoofdwerk Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften werkte Musil zijn. GABRIELA STOICEA Clemson university Moosbrugger and the Case for Responsibility in Robert Musil's Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften In October , . De Cauwer, Stijn A Diagnosis of Modern Life Robert Musil's Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften as a Critical-Utopian Project Bruxelles, Bern, Berlin, Frankfurt am.

His essay-style reflections on the matter led him to formulate the Theorem der menschlichen Gestaltlosigkeit "Theorem of Human Shapelessness". This theorem postulates that humans are an "extraordinarily indolent mass" who are hollow when it comes to "every moral question" [1] and can be molded socially from the outside. A human is, according to Musil, "a creature of adaptation, who conforms himself to circumstances and situations. He wrote: I believe that what we have experienced since will have taught most people that, ethically speaking, the human being is almost formless, unexpectedly malleable, capable of anything; good and evil range equally widely in him, like the pointer on a sensitive scale. Even a traffic accident described in the first chapter of the novel is often interpreted primarily as a symbolic reference to the greater accident of the world war. This event proves to be a stage for what Musil calls Seinesgleichen geschieht translated variously as "the likes of it now happens" or "the self-same occurs". The parallel action is a brutally honest satirical description of somnambulance and pseudo-activity, which historian Christopher Clark has described as the characteristic behavior of the political elite of Austro-Hungary. Until the end of his life he meant for the novel to lead up to chapters depicting the mobilization, wherein he wanted to link the reality of the war, emerging from the civilizing fiction of an age of eternal peace, with the narrative inversion of all characters in the novel. With the outbreak of the war arises the potential for the emergence of antithetical qualities in every human being. The main character Ulrich would, in accordance with this unrealized plan, go to war in an act of intellectual and moral suicide. Starting in the s, however, its triumphal march around the world began with translations in many languages. The Man without Qualities was awarded its place as one of the most important German-language Modernist novels and as a unique literary-philosophical experiment; literary scholarship stresses, above all, the novel's significance for the explanation of the deeper causes of war. Philip Panye New York , p.

In legal practice, however, this did not translate into revised policies and procedures on how to try sexual murder cases and how to de- termine criminal indictments. Musil deftly exposes the incongruities between these different institutional discourses. The gap in Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, as in real life, between legal professionals on the one hand, for whom Lustmord was an inconsequential med- ical construct, and criminologists on the other, who argued that a charge of sexual murder should impact the adjudication of criminal responsibility, leaves Moos- brugger in a permanent state of limbo.

Whether or not his is a case of Lustmord would not have made a difference in the juridical reality of the s. How this ambiva- lence is interpreted differs slightly from one critic to another. Moos- brugger must be found responsible despite all the uncertainties that plague his case. But much more than legal order is at stake in whether or not, how, and by whom the defendant is found responsible.

In it, we witness the aftermath of a traffic accident whose meaning appears to revolve around the difficulties of es- tablishing causal responsibility. The description of the crash begins with the er- ratic movements of an unspecified something, not with who might have caused the disorder or why: Whereas the subject of the sentence becomes more specific from one clause to the next, the agent of the action does not. One may argue that responsibility cannot be assigned at this point, since everyone is still processing the situation.

But what follows suggests that everything in this scene is part of an elaborate reflection on the modern im- pulse to evade responsibility. Instead of telling us about the circumstances of the accident, Musil directs our attention to an onlooker who struggles with something akin to compassion. The identity of this character is somewhat of a riddle. Within the same sentence, the omniscient narrator advances and then retracts the possibility that her name is Ermelinda Tuzzi, who is in the company of Dr.

The fact that she perceives compassion as a threat to her well-being speaks volumes about the ethical and emotional vacuum in which the lady lives. To blame everything on a vehicle defect is to dismiss the possibility that any specific individual might have to bear the causal, moral, or legal responsibility for this accident.

A second remark by the presumptive Dr. Arnheim brings this exculpatory agenda into plain sight. The discrepancies between this second statement and the first one will not be lost on perceptive readers. The gentleman now shifts the blame from big trucks to cars in general, citing as evidence a statistic calculated for another country altogether, where the number and type of cars in use, as well as traffic conditions, are conceivably different.

It all amounts to a rhetorical erasure of individual responsibility that resonates with the lady. The fact that he takes humans out of the equation allows her to clear her own conscience of bystander apathy: Reinstating order becomes synonymous with evading the ethical respon- sibility that derives from witnessing the agony of another.

And the way to do this without feeling guilty is through intellectual and emotional detachment. In addition to individual psychology and morality, this episode explores how larger groups negotiate responsibility.

Immediately after the accident, bystanders cast wary glances at the driver and the victim, only to conclude without evidence or debate: As if blaming the collision on the speechless victim were not problematic enough, the onlookers also divest themselves of the ethical responsibility that falls upon them as witnesses to human suffering.

No one is truly interested in helping the victim, and no one shows com- passion. The eerie lack of dialogue and the preponderance of impersonal verb forms reflexives and passives bring into relief the obstinacy with which Kakanians refuse to answer to another. This connection can best be described as part of an economy of compensation whereby responsibility is transplanted from ordinary citizens to institutions, and from these and by these to the outliers of society.

If Moosbrugger is forced to take on a sur- plus of responsibility, the bystanders in the first chapter represent a deficit thereof. While he is legally punished for an act that he may not even have committed, they get away with moral quiescence. This is not random parallelism, but inter- dependent causality.

The defendant must take on responsibility because no one else does. And yet the violence and injustice done to Moosbrugger and to the victim of the accident remain, as does the question of what the future holds and how literature can re- spond to this crisis of responsibility. People will never again feel accountable in the same way they did before the advent of industrialization, urbanization, and mechanization. But it is possible, indeed necessary, to reclaim some notion of responsibility as a self-ref- erential reactive attitude, and this is where literature comes in.

One is that it invites erroneous conclusions about moral character based on what someone is believed to have done. The essay begins as a manifesto against the science-induced obsession with measuring everything precisely, including moral rectitude.

This leads Musil to deliver a scathing attack on the proposal of Austrian and German penal reformers to determine legal responsibility by the personality of the offender, rather than the nature or seriousness of the offense.

Fifty years after Franz von Liszt had ad- vocated for punishments that fit the criminal instead of the crime, Musil ascer- tains that reality is far removed from the ideals of the reform campaign: Bestraft wird [ Not even psychologists, let alone untrained judges, can determine if someone is accountable, least of all with scientific certainty.

Responsibility can only be grounded in actions, never in personality. The second problem that plagues responsibility according to Musil is its ten- dency to administer punishment for past actions, rather than provide incentives to avoid wrong-doing in the future: Musil highlights the disparity that exists between the prescriptive, prospective nature of moral norms and the punitive, retrospective measures taken to enforce these norms.

It is high time, he suggests, to embrace a notion of responsibility that is not restricted to the past. The reason to do this is that ex-ante responsibility comes with more social benefits by requiring individ- uals to weigh the impact of their actions on broader sections of society instead of specific individuals, as is the case with ex-post responsibility.

The two dangers that, following Musil, beset the allocation and quantification of responsibility—namely, that actions are misused as a measure of moral char- acter and that the past comes to outweigh the present and the future—have much to do with novels. With the psychological turn in literature, novels re-fashioned themselves from a genre previously depicting actions in progress to one offering a window into the human mind. Musil believed that such an endeavor is impos- sible in any field.

Gauging moral ability or psychological state from actions and events is as problematic in novels as in real life. It undermines the idea of writing and reading responsibly, much like the novelistic convention of narrating events in the past tense.

Novels, then, embody a woefully narrow understanding of responsibility by recounting past events and by collapsing the distinction between actions and character. One solution would be for novelists to expose the false equivalence between actions and character, rather than perpetuate it.

We see Musil doing this both with Ulrich and with Moosbrugger.

Moosbrugger does not afford easy answers either. Grounding the actions of protagonist and antagonist in quicksand is an effec- tive strategy for denaturalizing the conflation of deeds with character.

It all starts with a commonplace observation about the physical world that, in good Musilian tradition of combining scientific insights with hu- manistic ones, branches out into philosophical ruminations on life and literature.

While walking home after his exchange with Arnheim, Ulrich contemplates the mental effects of an experience as mundane as looking down an avenue of trees and forgetting that gaps exist among them. Not seeing the trees for the woods may be a benign optical illusion, but for someone in whose mind a conversation on responsibility is still fresh, it becomes emblematic of the human propensity— if not need—to make contradictions disappear, rather than resolve them, by way of maintaining a semblance of control in a world out of joint: Narratives are uniquely disposed to bring this about, and chief among them is the novel, which, more than any other genre, mobilizes temporality to create the illusion of continuity, harmony, and unidimensionality.

For Musil, chronological ordering creates the false impression of a necessary, teleological flow between events, which in turn curtails interpretive freedom.

Musil goes on to consider how one might counteract the detrimental effects that this mechanism has on responsibility. The answer, then, must come from re- forming the very genre that Ulrich singles out as condoning and contributing to the de-responsibilization of society.

This is precisely what Moosbrugger stands for in Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften.

Chapter 2: The Critical-Utopian Aspect of Der Mann Ohne Eigenschaften

Time and again we see him throwing sand into the wheels of nar- rative order. Wahnsinn implies Wahn—i. Convinced that Moosbrugger is feigning madness to divest himself of re- sponsibility, the judge uses bits and pieces of his life to build a causal narrative of guilt with which the defendant cannot identify: Instead, he em- phasizes the contingent nebeneinander of real-life events, which are often irrelevant to what comes next.

Operating at the intersection of aesthetics and epistemology, it has served as a framework for conceptualizing the relationship between time and space as forms of perception of the outer world Kant , between different art forms Lessing, Nietzsche , or between Wille and Vorstellung Schopenhauer, Nietzsche.

But this polarity belies a deeper concern with the issue of contingency in literature. Like judges and lawyers, literary authors often fall into the trap of teleology, and the problem lies with nar- ratives in general which pretend to start at the beginning when in fact they proceed from the end and interpret everything retrospectively assuming a specific purpose.

By turning Moosbrugger into the mouthpiece of a non-causal sequentiality, Musil criticizes the dependence of narratives on the kind of meaning that obliterates dis- order, contradictions, randomness, and purposelessness. Nicht, weil sie blutig waren? Die Tat hat Sie also nicht gehindert, das zu tun? What we are witnessing is an extended monologue masquerading as a conversation. The kind of encounter that philoso- phers Emmanuel Levinas and Martin Buber write against because it reduces the Other to the same, completely disregarding the ethical significance that attaches to the act of dialogue.

The absence of such dialogue undermines the possibility of an ethical encounter between Self and Other, but also the very idea of accountability. Narratives that purge themselves of any and all imperfections, gliding over gaps, contradictions, and silences in their blind search for absolute cohesion. This presupposes incorporating the nonsensical without assimilating it. It means allowing for a particular event or word to lack purpose and for an individual character to not be typified, as happens to Moosbrugger 2: The stakes for us today of the kind of project that Moosbrugger embodies cannot be overstated.

We need to start thinking of responsibility not just in terms of negative past actions, but as a principle for approaching the future as full of possibilities, but also of uncertainty and randomness.

To know you cannot control what happens tomorrow, and yet to calibrate your actions to the future in a way that does not deny its fundamental instability means to live responsibly.

It is high time we saw the trees in the fictional woods, and the gaps among them. Works Cited Amann, Klaus.

Robert Musil — Literatur und Politik. Rowohlt, Bayertz, Kurt. Prinzip oder Problem?

Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Beeman, Naomi. Benjamin, Walter. Bergengruen, Maximilian.

The man without qualities

Corino, Karl. Die Kunsttheorie Robert Musils und die analytische Philosophie. Mentis, Ebers, Thomas. LIT Verlag, Elder, Sace. Foucault, Michel. Madness and Civilization: A history of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Translated by Richard Howard, Random House, Herzog, Todd. Epistemologie des Extremen. Lustmord in Kriminologie und Literatur um Fink, This turn in fortune for the idea of responsibility cannot be ascribed solely to the expansion of democracy or to the internal dynamic of philosophical debates about free will and determinism.

Beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century, in- dustrialization and bureaucratization made it increasingly difficult to establish a direct, linear link between agents and actions. Equally important were the deper- sonalization and anonymity that came with urbanization.

Then, during the early twentieth century, rapid advancements in technology especially in transportation and communications further undermined the sense of personal causation, as did the emergence of new branches of science and the industrial warfare of World War I. The erosion of causal responsibility to which all these processes contributed was accompanied by the dissolution of ethical accountability. In the juridical field too, responsibility became the object of uncertainty in turn-of-the-century Germany and Austria.

Criminological research and the rise of psychiatry led to heated debates about where to locate guilt and how criminal sentences should be determined. Some argued that the cause of crime lay in social relations and should lead to uniform punishments. They argued, under the influence of new insights from criminal psychology, that the cause of crime must be sought in the physical or psychological make-up of the defendant and that punishments should be indi- vidualized Herzog At a time when responsibility was threatening to disappear as a mode of ethical engagement with others, philosophers and writers began to ponder a notion of accountability that would do justice to the complex- ities of modern life without undermining the pursuit of agency.

This necessarily entailed some changes in the semantics of the word. This enlarged notion of responsibility, he argues, was born and exercised first in the political and cultural arenas, and then in the moral realm Paul Ricoeur posits a similar displacement of the notion of responsibility in modernity: A close analysis of key episodes from Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften will show that events associated with Christian Moosbrugger dramatize the modifications that responsibility underwent in the early twentieth century as a legal, moral, and cultural construct.

Musil does not stop at diagnosing the maladies of modernity from the sidelines; he also reflects on the work of de responsibilization that goes on in literature. And there is no better place to start a discussion of re- sponsibility than the legal realm, given that the carpenter is first mentioned in the novel not as a flesh-and-blood human being, but as the namesake of a legal case: Responsibility is a concept with many meanings across different fields.

Of these, the legal one holds the most promise for a clear, objective definition of the term. At first, everyone presumes the carpenter guilty. This initial assessment is corroborated by what happens during the trial.

The speed and resoluteness with which the judge makes his ruling in only two and a half pages give the impression of a straightforward case. The contentious issue is whether or not it is legally possible to draw a clear line be- tween responsibility and irresponsibility.

The protracted dispute among pundits of the law over the precise domain of criminal liability triggers a recommendation for a new psychiatric evaluation of Moosbrugger and prevents the matter of his guilt from ever being settled definitively. But the ambiguity of this particular case does not derive solely from extraneous debates.

One of the first things the judge must do is establish whether or not the defendant is fit to stand trial depending on his mental state at the time of the crime.

Musil references here the distinction that exists in legal parlance between responsibility and criminal liability, i. The latter requires, in addition to proof that someone has committed a crime, evidence that they acted with criminal intent and did not lack the ability to premeditate or to distinguish right from wrong.

This is where things get murky.

During the trial, the question of his sanity is entrusted to a group of psychiatrists whose iden- tities and diagnostic techniques remain a mystery. When their verdict finally comes in, pronouncing the defendant responsible, Moosbrugger undermines the consensus in one fell swoop: Through this intervention, the alleged murderer shatters any illusion of certainty regarding his mental state that may have developed up to this point.

Even assuming that Moosbrugger did commit a crime, questions proliferate about the precise nature of that crime. Rape is never mentioned, but according to psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing, forced intercourse was not a necessary condition for classifying a particular crime as Lustmord. But there is also sufficient ground to challenge the assumption of Lustmord in this case.

By itself, repulsion towards the victim does not exculpate Moos- brugger from the charge of Lustmord, since this may well be a case of what psy- choanalytic theory calls reaction formation, whereby an emotion or impulse deemed unacceptable is converted into its opposite.

One such factor is that, unlike the real-life murderer after whom he was modeled, Moosbrugger does not have a record of sex crimes or violence against women. Furthermore, in the account we read of his life, there is no indication of sadism or of any other deviation of the sexual drive. Sexual repression does not automatically imply deviance. Like Wulffen, psychiatrists paid great attention to nuances when writing about the etiology of sexual murders.

It comes, instead, from the newspapers, whose modus operandi the novel condemns. As Sace Elder has shown for the infamous cases of sexual murder that captured public imagination in s Germany, newspapers often dramatized for their readers what the meeting between murderer and victim might have looked like, with the resulting narratives being anything but neutral — With no mention of a testi- mony by Moosbrugger or of an official investigative agency on whose work the murder reconstruction might draw, the possibility looms large that public and crit- ical perception of Moosbrugger as a sexual predator may be missing the mark.

This is also suggested by how other characters refer to the carpenter when not by name. For his part, Voigt forcefully rejected the charge of sexual murder, but used a different argument than Moosbrugger, saying he had not killed Josefine Peer in order to gratify deviant sexual desires but in an act of rage, and that he should therefore be tried for manslaughter. In the span of fifty years beginning around , the concept gained much traction in the work of medical professionals like Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Georg Ilberg, Albert Moll, Josef Rahser, and Felix Ritter.

They believed that those who com- mitted crimes because of mental illness and sexual perversion including Lustmord should not be held accountable before the law.

(PDF) Self and Other in Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften | Zeynep Talay Turner - medical-site.info

Medical treatment, they argued, was better suited in such cases than legal punishment. But this was a long and arduous process, and its success was neither guaranteed nor universal.

Germany, for instance, despite trying repeatedly to revise its penal code starting in , never managed to see these efforts through to completion before the Nazis came to power Wetzell This stalemate reflects in part the resistance with which criminological research met in legal quarters. Lust- mord offers a good example of this. Judges were taking note of the role that sexual pathology could play in motivating someone to commit murder, and jurists like Erich Wulffen recommended categorizing Lust- mord as manslaughter In legal practice, however, this did not translate into revised policies and procedures on how to try sexual murder cases and how to de- termine criminal indictments.

Musil deftly exposes the incongruities between these different institutional discourses. The gap in Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, as in real life, between legal professionals on the one hand, for whom Lustmord was an inconsequential med- ical construct, and criminologists on the other, who argued that a charge of sexual murder should impact the adjudication of criminal responsibility, leaves Moos- brugger in a permanent state of limbo.

Whether or not his is a case of Lustmord would not have made a difference in the juridical reality of the s. How this ambiva- lence is interpreted differs slightly from one critic to another.

Moos- brugger must be found responsible despite all the uncertainties that plague his case. But much more than legal order is at stake in whether or not, how, and by whom the defendant is found responsible. In it, we witness the aftermath of a traffic accident whose meaning appears to revolve around the difficulties of es- tablishing causal responsibility. The description of the crash begins with the er- ratic movements of an unspecified something, not with who might have caused the disorder or why: Whereas the subject of the sentence becomes more specific from one clause to the next, the agent of the action does not.

One may argue that responsibility cannot be assigned at this point, since everyone is still processing the situation. But what follows suggests that everything in this scene is part of an elaborate reflection on the modern im- pulse to evade responsibility.

Instead of telling us about the circumstances of the accident, Musil directs our attention to an onlooker who struggles with something akin to compassion. The identity of this character is somewhat of a riddle. Within the same sentence, the omniscient narrator advances and then retracts the possibility that her name is Ermelinda Tuzzi, who is in the company of Dr. The fact that she perceives compassion as a threat to her well-being speaks volumes about the ethical and emotional vacuum in which the lady lives.

To blame everything on a vehicle defect is to dismiss the possibility that any specific individual might have to bear the causal, moral, or legal responsibility for this accident.

A second remark by the presumptive Dr. Arnheim brings this exculpatory agenda into plain sight. The discrepancies between this second statement and the first one will not be lost on perceptive readers. The gentleman now shifts the blame from big trucks to cars in general, citing as evidence a statistic calculated for another country altogether, where the number and type of cars in use, as well as traffic conditions, are conceivably different.

It all amounts to a rhetorical erasure of individual responsibility that resonates with the lady. The fact that he takes humans out of the equation allows her to clear her own conscience of bystander apathy: Reinstating order becomes synonymous with evading the ethical respon- sibility that derives from witnessing the agony of another. And the way to do this without feeling guilty is through intellectual and emotional detachment.

In addition to individual psychology and morality, this episode explores how larger groups negotiate responsibility. Immediately after the accident, bystanders cast wary glances at the driver and the victim, only to conclude without evidence or debate: As if blaming the collision on the speechless victim were not problematic enough, the onlookers also divest themselves of the ethical responsibility that falls upon them as witnesses to human suffering.

No one is truly interested in helping the victim, and no one shows com- passion. The eerie lack of dialogue and the preponderance of impersonal verb forms reflexives and passives bring into relief the obstinacy with which Kakanians refuse to answer to another.

This connection can best be described as part of an economy of compensation whereby responsibility is transplanted from ordinary citizens to institutions, and from these and by these to the outliers of society.

If Moosbrugger is forced to take on a sur- plus of responsibility, the bystanders in the first chapter represent a deficit thereof.

While he is legally punished for an act that he may not even have committed, they get away with moral quiescence. This is not random parallelism, but inter- dependent causality. The defendant must take on responsibility because no one else does. And yet the violence and injustice done to Moosbrugger and to the victim of the accident remain, as does the question of what the future holds and how literature can re- spond to this crisis of responsibility.

People will never again feel accountable in the same way they did before the advent of industrialization, urbanization, and mechanization. But it is possible, indeed necessary, to reclaim some notion of responsibility as a self-ref- erential reactive attitude, and this is where literature comes in. One is that it invites erroneous conclusions about moral character based on what someone is believed to have done. The essay begins as a manifesto against the science-induced obsession with measuring everything precisely, including moral rectitude.

This leads Musil to deliver a scathing attack on the proposal of Austrian and German penal reformers to determine legal responsibility by the personality of the offender, rather than the nature or seriousness of the offense. Fifty years after Franz von Liszt had ad- vocated for punishments that fit the criminal instead of the crime, Musil ascer- tains that reality is far removed from the ideals of the reform campaign: Bestraft wird [ Not even psychologists, let alone untrained judges, can determine if someone is accountable, least of all with scientific certainty.

Responsibility can only be grounded in actions, never in personality. The second problem that plagues responsibility according to Musil is its ten- dency to administer punishment for past actions, rather than provide incentives to avoid wrong-doing in the future: Musil highlights the disparity that exists between the prescriptive, prospective nature of moral norms and the punitive, retrospective measures taken to enforce these norms.

It is high time, he suggests, to embrace a notion of responsibility that is not restricted to the past. The reason to do this is that ex-ante responsibility comes with more social benefits by requiring individ- uals to weigh the impact of their actions on broader sections of society instead of specific individuals, as is the case with ex-post responsibility.

The two dangers that, following Musil, beset the allocation and quantification of responsibility—namely, that actions are misused as a measure of moral char- acter and that the past comes to outweigh the present and the future—have much to do with novels. With the psychological turn in literature, novels re-fashioned themselves from a genre previously depicting actions in progress to one offering a window into the human mind.

Musil believed that such an endeavor is impos- sible in any field. Gauging moral ability or psychological state from actions and events is as problematic in novels as in real life.

It undermines the idea of writing and reading responsibly, much like the novelistic convention of narrating events in the past tense. Novels, then, embody a woefully narrow understanding of responsibility by recounting past events and by collapsing the distinction between actions and character.

One solution would be for novelists to expose the false equivalence between actions and character, rather than perpetuate it.

We see Musil doing this both with Ulrich and with Moosbrugger. Moosbrugger does not afford easy answers either.

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