PREFACE TO THE REVISED TRANSLATION, 1939
readers of the German original of this book
(Philosophie der Freiheit,
second edition, 1918) will know that the author's
argument is largely based upon a distinction between the different
elements making up the act of Knowledge. English philosophical terms
are rarely exact equivalents of German philosophical terms, and the
translator's standing problem is to avoid, or at least to minimize,
the ambiguities resulting therefrom. The aim of the present revision
of the original translation has been to help the reader to understand
the analysis of the act of Knowledge and to enable him to follow the
subsequent chapters without being troubled by ambiguous terms.
has been rendered as “percept,” and “Begriff” as
“concept,” in accordance with general use. There has been,
however, a difficulty in finding any satisfactory means of making
clear in English, by choice of words, the distinction which exists in
German between “Vorstellung” and “Idee.” Both are
covered in English philosophical usage by one and the same word:
“idea.” Here a definite decision had to be made to which,
we trust, the reader will soon become accustomed.
mental picture which the thinker forms to represent the concept in an
individual way (“Vorstellung”) is here called a
“representation.” This word, however clumsy it may seem at
the first glance, is justified, because the mental picture indeed
stands for the concept and represents it
[See this book, page 80.]
Coleridge has used the term
representation in this sense. Recent writers on psychology have
adopted it with the obvious aim of avoiding confusion.
The German term “Idee,” on the other hand, means more than
an ordinary concept. It is a “fuller, more saturated, more
comprehensive concept.” [*
See this book, page 37.] The philosophic systems of Kant,
Schelling, Hegel and indeed the whole of German philosophy are quite
unthinkable without this term. Chapter IX of this book gives an
outstanding example in its title: “Die Idee der Freiheit.”
In order to indicate this reference with the German term “Idee”
we have translated it as “Idea,” printed with a capital “
I ” throughout the book.
the ambiguous English term “idea” had to be altogether
avoided and to be replaced by “representation,” whenever
the German text has “Vorstellung,” and by “Idea”
when the text has “Idee.”
point is that a distinction had to be made without which vital
passages of this book remain obscure.
goes without saying that the merits of the previous translation are
fully recognized in this revision. Alterations, therefore, have been
made only where a greater truth towards the original seemed desirable
and could be achieved without spoiling the style, which gave such an
excellent reflection of the beauties of the original.
should like to thank the many friends who contributed to this
revision from almost all English-speaking countries.
London, Whitsun, 1939.