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Re: on definition Re: [xmca] Communication/social relations/obshenie

I think the important aspect of the Nietzsche quote is that in both the singular and plural he uses quotes:

Was nun jenes andre Element an der Strafe betrifft, das flüssige, ihren »Sinn«, so stellt in einem sehr späten Zustande der Kultur (zum Beispiel im heutigen Europa) der Begriff »Strafe« in der Tat gar nicht mehr einen Sinn vor, sondern eine ganze Synthesis von »Sinnen«: die bisherige Geschichte der Strafe überhaupt, die Geschichte ihrer Ausnützung zu den verschiedensten Zwecken, kristallisiert sich zuletzt in eine Art von Einheit, welche schwer löslich, schwer zu analysieren und, was man hervorheben muß, ganz und gar undefinierbar ist. (p. 820)

The word Sinnen is not the plural of the word Sinn, but rather Sinne is the plural. It is I think the dativ and accusative of the plural that would take the "s". On the other hand, the other word that frequently is used to translate "meaning", Bedeutung, does have a regular plural when used in this way.

The semantics of the word Sinn is different from the English, in many ways.

Finally, I think you can read Nietzsche through the lens of Bakhtin and his many voices, so the "Sinnen" (with quotes) would be similar to the many voices that each word has accumulated in its cultural history.


On 2009-11-23, at 8:01 AM, Tony Whitson wrote:

On Sun, 22 Nov 2009, mike cole wrote:

> Again, in every case of "definition" we have (a largely unexplicated,
> because you can never say everything about anything) a large,
> pre-supposed set of theoretical assumptions about the processes being
> defined.

On definition, here's Nietzsche:

"all concepts in which an entire process is semiotically concentrated defy definition; only something which has no history can be defined"

Nietzsche made that observation in the context of inquiring into the meaning [_Sinn_] of "punishment":

"With regard to the [fluid] element in punishment, . . . its 'meaning', the concept 'punishment' presents . . . not just one meaning but a whole synthesis of 'meanings' [_Sinnen_]: the history of punishment up to now in general, the history of its use for a variety of purposes, finally crystallizes[*] in a kind of unity which is difficult to dissolve back into its elements, difficult to analyse and, this has to be stressed, is absolutely _undefinable_."

pp. 52-53 in Nietzsche, Friedrich. _On the Genealogy of Morality_. Translated by Carol Diethe. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
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