We are pleased to announce the publication of a new essay by Rebecca Schuman (Ohio State University) on Kafka and Wittgenstein, entitled “‘Unerschütterlich’: Kafka’s Proceß, Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, and the Law of Logic.” Prof. Schuman’s essay, published in the new issue of The German Quarterly, can be accessed online by clicking here (you are also invited to email the author — by clicking here — to obtain an electronic copy).
Here is the essay’s abstract:
This paper offers an “analytic analysis” (that is, one that uses both the sources and methodology of the early analytic tradition in philosophy) of Kafka’s Der Proceß. Specifically, the author uses the formal logic Ludwig Wittgenstein charted out in the Tractatus logico-philosophicus to show that while Josef K.’s arrest, trial and “execution” may seem unjust or even invalid when we refuse to consider pre-existing or self-determined guilt, Kafka’s portrayal of logical contradiction actually reveals the proceedings to be entirely logically valid. The author accomplishes this through an identification of several key contradictions in Kafka’s text combined with an exploration of Wittgenstein’s proof (using truth-tables) that contradictions, though senseless (sinnlos), still belong to logical symbolism. Thus, while the Law (das Gesetz) of the novel’s enigmatic and terrifying Court (das Gericht) remains as inscrutable as ever, Der Proceß does indeed heed another sort of law-the laws of formal logic.
And here is a preview of the article’s first page (click on it to enlarge):