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The Study of Man
On-line since: 23rd June, 2002
A NOTE ON THE REVISED TRANSLATION
The Study of Man,
like all German philosophical works and especially those of Rudolf Steiner, poses quite special difficulties to the translator with regard both to general phraseology and to individual words. In this case the latter problem is more difficult because the translator has to take into account the usage in other translated works of the same author.
Prominent among the single words is the vexed Vorstellung (verb
vorstellen) which has received a variety of renderings at the
hands of different translators. No single English word, or pair of
words, entirely corresponds to Vorstellung. George Adams, in
Occult Science — an Outline.
has rendered it as mental image, mental
picture, thought picture or idea
according to the context. Michael Wilson in his revision of
Philosophy of Freedom
has preferred to keep to mental picture.
Vorstellung does not intrinsically contain the suggestion of
picture, and I toyed with the idea of rendering it mental
evocation or even of inventing the word
mentalisation. But in the present work Steiner does rather
stress the pictorial nature of Vorstellung, and as the work
should certainly be studied in conjunction with the
Philosophy of Freedom
I have decided to follow Michael Wilson and render Vorstellung
as mental picture throughout, and the verb as to
picture mentally even though the translation may appear
in some places rather clumsy and not quite English. I have found that
the practice of the original translators in varying the words used has
led to some confusion of thought.
The Study of Man
Steiner draws a sharp distinction between
two things: Vorstellung, an end product, a formed picture
stemming from the past and working through antipathy towards the
concept: and Fantasie, a new beginning, a germ or seed drawing
upon the future, working through sympathy to creation. The word
Fantasie poses another special difficulty. Its real equivalent
in English is imagination and Steiner uses it
passim throughout the book. But he also uses the German
Imagination, not in the special anthroposophical sense where he
describes the three future soul powers as Imagination, Inspiration and
Intuition, but in much the same sense as we ordinarily use it in
I have throughout translated Fantasie as
imagination and when the original uses both words together
I have combined imagination with picture
forming. When Steiner uses Imagination in the plural, not in the
sense of a faculty of the mind but as meaning the actual pictures
which that faculty produces I have used picture-forms.
Two other words, Trieb and Begierde, appear as
impulse and desire.
Steiner uses the word Bild (picture or image) in connection
with both Vorstellung and Fantasie. Both, he says, have
a Bild character. But, as Michael Wilson has written,
Vorstellung in this book is like the photograph you take
of a finished object or building: Fantasie is more like the
first inspired sketch an artist makes, vital, unformed, evocative,
capable of evolution and growth. In order not to confuse
Bild with Vorstellung I have throughout rendered it as
image again even at the expense of a more normal
English usage in some places.
Another word calling for special comment is Gemüt. As
applied to an individual we could fairly translate er ist ganz
Gemüt as he is all heart. As a simple noun I have
had with feeling nature or feeling life, not
daring to venture to allheartedness.
The above and other considerations have called for a good many
emendations of the original translation, in which however I found many
felicities of expression which I should like to acknowledge.
Last Modified: 12-Jun-2018
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