Man’s Duty to Society

From Meingast’s notebook circa 1880: “For many a man, the totality of social connexions is at bottom nothing but a grumpily dignified scheme—a dull procession that one joins in, reluctantly and without zest, once in a while. Such a relation between ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ assumes instead of creating and forces into the foreground something entirely […]

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Love and Repetition

If you repeat anything for long enough, you will be brought to love the activity or the object (if the activity is one best characterized by a transitive verb). Say a word aloud many times and its delicate contours will float on the palate rather than sit dully in the mouth, merely tolerated as a […]

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On America

  You play with ace and diamond, bat and ball, horse and track, gun and fowl, but, frolicsome Americans, is there not a finer game to be played? You exalt brief shows of strength or cunning but sigh impatiently at any talk of wisdom or grace. And from the wild new-world grandstands with their sunlit […]

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Irrelevance Logic

One of the pillars of Meingast’s Logic was his celebrated irrelevance logic, developed around 1895, in an attempt to systematize some of the bolder and more speculative metaphysical ideas he was espousing at that time. A key tenet of irrelevance logic was the much-debated principle of closure under irrelevance. The principle stated that if Q is […]

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Meingast – A Collector of Objects

A curious fact often overlooked by his biographers (but well-known among his contemporaries) was the delectation Meingast took in objects as such. This fervent appreciation of objects as such survived his shift from the naïve realism of his youth to the “infinite mirror realism” of his maturity, the doctrine of transcendental reality mirrored ad infinitum […]

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Meingast on Vacation

All this (I sweep my hands out in front of me) that I ostend, these Prussian meadows with their red poppies, with their pale caducous calyxes, the black firs rumbling from the sea winds, my feet on the gravel of the path (I am always careful not to sunder the lengthened warming worm-bodies scattered here […]

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The Elixir of Sunbeams

An entry on Meingast was written for the 1923 edition of the Grundriß der Geschichte der Philosophie (Schwabe & Co Verlag), but Meingast’s attorney wrote a short letter demanding that it not be included because Meingast did not want “to erect his tombstone quite yet.” The publisher wasn’t able to supply a draft of the […]

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The Eternal Recurrence of the Slightly Different

Although highly influenced by Nietzsche, Meingast departed from Nietzsche on several key points. One crucial point of contention concerns Nietzsche’s idea of the eternal recurrence. Meingast’s fervent disagreement with Nietzsche on this topic is summarized nicely in the following representative passage: “Nietzsche’s idea of the eternal recurrence remained long in my mind, from Silvester to […]

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On Breakfast Cereals

A. L. Katz devotes some pages to an enigmatic, hastily scrawled remark in Meingast’s diary dated July 13, 1902:   “Müsl, Müsl, wie du mein Wesen verhedderst!”   After much deliberation and wringing of hands, Katz ascribes the umlaut to agitation, and renders the remark,  “Musil, Musil, how you misunderstand my nature!” –  a reflection, he […]

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Cligès (or, the Anti-Tristan)

In a letter addressed to Otto Wesendonck, written in 1882 after his return from summering in the Salzkammergut, Meingast announces his vision for a new form of musical theater, the Nichtvölligaberfastgesamtkunstwerk (the ‘ever-so-slightly-less-than-complete-artwork’). He writes: “In Wagner the leveling tendency consumes itself. How he oppresses [schlägt nieder] the bassoon!  In halting the flywheel one becomes part […]

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On Transcendental Arguments

“The fate of all transcendental arguments is abject failure. This is because the world is made possible by the individual himself. When one reflects, one separates oneself from oneself, and can no longer find oneself in the world, through reflection, as the condition for its possibility. Man chases after himself but will never catch up […]

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Meingast’s Guide to the “Good” Life

From Guide to the “Good” Life (1926): It’s common Austrian wisdom that the more one reads and thinks, the sicker and uglier the body becomes. Mountaineering, river bathing, shooting, skiing, and horseback riding can reverse the process if these activities are done regularly before the subject reaches 35. After that, the subject cannot reverse the corporeally […]

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Marginalia

This was written in Meingast’s distinctive script next to Luther’s hymn “Ein neues Lied wir heben an” in a hymnal owned by the University of Vienna: “Suum cuique: One piece of the quarried granite goes to the capstone above and another to the foundation underground. The virtue of the stone is apparent in both.”

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Pets

By all accounts, Meingast was fond of animals. In 1910 or 1911, he adopted two kittens. Dr. Marie de Besombes (a librarian at the BNF) thinks there’s a good chance that the curious cats in this photo are Meingast’s cats Hamilcar and Hasdrubal. de Besombes also said that Meingast had some pet roosters as a teenager (he kept them […]

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Hallowed Hollowness II

“Gentlemen! We find ourselves in a crucial epoch. We, so called ‘civilized’ men of intellect, are only now emerging from a primitive phase in which one mode of thought has been elevated to the highest degree due to its usefulness in practical matters. Surrendering to purposive intellectuality has helped the primitive man over many hurdles. Building […]

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