Abstracts for Akadeemia 1/2006

Jakub Forst-Battaglia
Austria yesterday, today, tomorrow

In the opening article of our special issue on Austria, the Austrian ambassador to Estonia interprets the past of his country and its future prospects in relation to the public and cultural events celebrated in 2005 and 2006. The logical connection between the Austrian greats – Adalbert Stifter, Elias Canetti, Ingeborg Bachmann, Karl Kraus, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sigmund Freud – symbolizes the Austrian tradition, the multiplicity and continuity of Austria in the middle of Europe. With its spiritual heritage, Austria as a modern country with ancient roots is hoping to serve Europe and, together with Estonia, to rely on Europe.

John W. Boyer
Some reflections on the problem of Austria, Germany, and Mitteleuropa

In the article written in 2001 on the basis of a presentation made in 1989, the author undertakes the task of providing an overview of the issues facing historians of Austria as they try to situate Austrian history within the wider cultural and social realm of central Europe. He presents some of his reflections to his colleagues who study Germany on the possible role of Austrian history in shaping the interpretive choices they make in the future. The very term “Austria” calls into question the problem of chronological direction and cultural location. Does one write the history of Austria from the nineteenth century forward, as that of the monarchy and its successor states; or does one write Austrian history backward, as the historic course of institutional and cultural development of one, relatively small territorial component of that empire as it exists now?

To begin with, Boyer introduces the reactions of two prominent senior Austrian historians – Fritz Fellner and Gerald Stourzh – to the interpretative position taken by Karl Erdmann on Austria’s relation to German history and German society. In a lecture at Kiel in April 1985, Erdmann offered the bold claim that German history should be understood from the perspective of “three states, two nations, one people”.

For many younger Austrian historians, the Erdmann debate was frustrating. They face the question: is it possible to nationalize the history of Austria within the history of the monarchy? That is, can the “Austro-Germans” somehow be converted into proto-Austrians, viewing them as another historic “nationality”, if only a nationality by default?

Boyer believes in 2001 that Austrian history is embedded in the cultural history of the various German-speaking lands and a part of the institutional and policy history of central European state development. But it is also a history of political networks and social organizations, of public institutions and private mores, that make little sense when viewed through any rigidly configured prism of “Germanness”, even when the participants in these institutions and organizations used German as their primary language of communication.

Siegfried Beer
The Soviet occupation of Austria, 1945-1955: Recent research and perspectives

The studies on the Soviet regime’s policy towards Austria can be divided into two parts: those written before 1991 and those written after. While the Western archives became accessible for researchers in the mid-1970s, at least partial access to the archives of the Soviet Union and its satellites became possible only after the collapse of the Soviet empire.

Although Austria was not included in the Soviet sphere of influence that covered most of central and eastern Europe, and was considered a member of the bloc of neutral states between Soviet and British influence, there can be no doubt that it was from the start intended for heavy economic exploitation to rebuild the industrially ravaged Soviet Union.

As far as the Austrian Communist Party (KPÖ) is concerned, the first free national elections on 25 November 1945 proved the political weakness of the KPÖ, which managed to draw only a meagre 5.42 percent of the vote. By the spring of 1946, the Soviets must have realized that Austria was not as attractive ideologically as it was economically. However, by 1955, the system of the Administration of Soviet Properties in Austria (USIA) was close to bankruptcy or heavily indebted to the Soviet Military Bank, and from 1953, the cost of occupation was at least 36 Austrian shillings annually.

The Austrian communists were not able to increase their political support at the elections of 1949 and 1953 either. By then, Moscow must have understood that the likelihood of a peaceful transition to socialism in Austria with the KPÖ as its vanguard was a mere illusion. However, only after the emergence of Nikita Khrushchev in early 1955 as the dominant force in the Politbureau, did Molotov’s foreign policy begin to be eroded, and a new Austrian course under the banner of “peaceful coexistence” became possible. The neutralization of Austria also stopped the latent impetus for Austrian integration into western Europe and at the same time drove a wedge between the northern and Mediterranean flanks of Nato.

Rudolf Haller
Austrian philosophy

Concentrating on the Vienna Circle, the article discusses the development of Austrian philosophy from the late nineteenth century to the 1920s as more or less homogeneous. The genetic principle of explanation helps to understand the essential features of Austrian philosophy as well as its independence compared to the rest of the German-speaking space and predominance in the area of the old Danube monarchy.

Although restoration-period Austria also had its local centres of Kantianism, one of the main features of Austrian philosophy is that it did not accept Kant’s “Copernican Revolution”. In opposition to all idealist trends, Austrian philosophy can be characterized by realist tendencies. As it continues Leibniz’s and Hume’s pre-Kantian traditions, another of its dominant features is persistent opposition to German idealism, particularly to Hegel.

Haller describes in detail Bernard Bolzano’s logical realism and, particularly, Franz Brentano’s descriptive psychology and its influence on the Prague group and the Lvov-Warsaw school headed by Kasimir Twardowski. Along with Brentano’s other pupils, Haller discusses Alexius Meinong at greater length. In Haller’s opinion, the founders of gestalt psychology, Christian von Ehrenfels and Alois Höfler, have received too little attention.

In conclusion, the Austrian philosophy of the period described by Haller seems to be, on the one hand, a hidden branch of English empiricism, where philosophy is reduced to one of its disciplines – philosophy of science. On the other hand, it is a concealed continuation of Leibniz’s concepts that were centred on the new philosophy of logic. Both branches united in natural-scientific research. The main postulates of new positivism, namely the principle of empirical substantiation of any kind of cognition or knowledge, the principle of the economy of explanations [Prinzip der Sparsamkeit der Erklärungskunde], as well as the principle of unity of scientific cognition belonged to the foundations of Austrian philosophy, like the tradition of language criticism.

Franz Brentano
On the differences between psychical and physical phenomena

The present excerpt has been translated from the 1924 issue of Brentano’s Psychologie vom Empirischen Standpunkt(e), the original variant of which was published in 1874.

Brentano claims that objects of scientific research can only be phenomena [Phänomena] represented in the consciousness, not things as they are in themselves. Thus, our whole world of phenomena is divided into two classes – physical and psychical phenomena.

According to Brentano, we perceive our psychical phenomena with immediacy and absolute truthfulness always when they happen. As he says, internal perception is admission of truth [Wahrnehmung] in the direct sense of the word; there is no room for errors; neither does Brentano acknowledge the existence of unconscious mental acts, as each mental act is also reflectively directed at oneself. As for physical phenomena (which should not be understood as phenomena of physics in their present-day sense), we cannot be as certain of their truthfulness. A physical phenomenon is what something seems to be in our external perception, for example, colour, temperature, smell, sound, etc. They may have a grounding in reality, but it does not follow from the character of the phenomena that reality itself is what it seems to be for us. The reality of psychical phenomena, on the other hand, consists in their phenomenality. Brentano’s distinction between the psychical and the physical is phenomenological differentiation between two kinds of phenomena, thus differing significantly from the present-day view of the physical as the objectively existing and the psychical as the sphere of subjectivity.

Brentano reintroduced the idea of directedness that originates in medieval scholastics, which offered another basis for differentiating between the psychical and physical phenomena. He separated the act (presentation) of a psychical phenomenon from its content, and argued that, differently from physical phenomena, each mental act is intensional; it is either directed at its object or contains its object in itself. A physical phenomenon is itself an object of presentation, not an act, and it does not contain in itself its object. In addition, an intensional object need not exist in reality; thus, it does not follow from the circumstance that an act of thought has an object that this object exists in reality.

Sigmund Freud
Mourning and melancholy

Freud makes an attempt to explain the essence of melancholy, comparing it with the usual effect of mourning. The preconditions for melancholy are – loss of an object, ambivalence and receding of libido into one’s self.

Melancholy is psychically characterized by deeply painful dispiritedness, loss of interest in the external world, loss of the ability to love, decrease in efficiency and self-assurance, which is expressed in reproaches to oneself and self-criticism and grows into a paranoid expectation of punishment. This image can be better understood if we consider that the same features exist in the case of mourning, with one exception – the decrease in self-assurance is missing there. The melancholic also shows us another characteristic that does not appear in mourning – extraordinary decrease in the sense of ego, vast impoverishment of one’s self. In the case of mourning, the world has become poor and void; in the case of melancholy – it is one’s own self. The loss of the object becomes the loss of one’s self; the conflict between one’s self and the beloved person becomes a contradiction between self-criticism and the changed ego.

Among the premises for melancholy, an important role belongs to the ambivalence conflict. If the love for an object that one is unable to give up, while the object itself is given up, is hidden behind narcissist identification, then anger at this replacement object breaks out – abuse, humiliation, sufferings, and sadist satisfaction obtained from these sufferings. The inarguably enjoyable self-torture in melancholy means exactly the same as the respective phenomenon in the case of obsessive neurosis – liberation from the tendencies to sadism and anger that are related to one object and, thus, directed against one’s own personality.

In the case of melancholy, innumerable struggles develop around the object, where hate and love fight each other; one, in order to separate the libido from the object, the other – to protect it against the attack from the libido position.

Everything related to these ambivalence struggles remains unperceivable for the consciousness until melancholy has reached its characteristic end. This means that the endangered libido finally abandons the object, but only in order to retreat into the ego, from which it had its beginnings. Thus love has been saved from destruction by a retreat into the ego. After such withdrawal of libido, the process can become conscious, and this is presented to the consciousness as a conflict between a part of the self and a critical instance.

Erwin Schrödinger
Is natural science dependent on the environment?

In his presentation in the physics and mathematics class of the Prussian Academy of Sciences on 18 February 1932, Schrödinger poses the question whether, analogously to the so-called mind sciences, the exact sciences also include a subjective component.

Although the identity of results in the case of a repeated experiment is an absolute requirement in exact sciences, it is forgotten that the number of experiments carried out, even if extremely large, is still infinitely small, when compared to the number of possible experiments that have not been carried out. Thus, we cannot deny that scientists’ interests and disposition have a decisive influence on the further direction of their work, and this opens a wide gate to subjectivity, which, in principle, cannot be closed.

Naturally, their interests are determined by the results of earlier experiments – by this “exact” material that one would like to consider “immaculately objective”. But primarily not only by the results but by the scientists’ ideas about them. Secondly, the selection of earlier experiments, in its turn, was determined by the results of even earlier experiments and the ideas associated with them. A single brilliant idea can often kindle interest in studies that earlier seemed uninteresting and insignificant.

Nonetheless, the scientists of all countries obviously agree on which studies they consider promising in their speciality. This decision is objective, but one should add – scientists of all countries but of the same speciality and of the same period. This leads us to the idea that here, like in a number of other consensus omnium cases, a lot depends on fashion – valuing a certain trend in which one tries to achieve success, in its turn, depends on the integral cultural environment.

In contemporary science, in modern physics in particular, Schrödinger attempts to discover environment-related features characteristic of the whole culture. Before explaining their essence, he designates them with the following keywords: 1. What in art, particularly in crafts, but also elsewhere is designated by the concept of “pure objectivity”. 2. The need for refutation. Support to liberty and lawlessness. 3. The idea of relativity – theory of invariants. 4. Methodology of mass production, partly through rational organization, partly through industrial multiplication. 5. Statistics. These groups, however, are not strictly separated but merge into one another.

Christian Doppler
On the coloured light of the binary star and other stars: An attempt to formulate a general theory that would include Bradley’s aberration theorem as its integrating part

First, Doppler states that sound and light waves have been treated as objective phenomena, but the colour and intensity of the light seen or the pitch and loudness of the sound heard depend namely on purely subjective definition.

Until it is presumed that both the observer and the source of waves remain stationary, there is no doubt that the subjective evaluations coincide with the numerically objective ones. The results, however, are quite different if the observer either approaches the source of waves or recedes from it; or if the source of waves moves in relation to the stationary observer. In this case, the distance and the time interval between the two consecutive wave peaks changes, and, therefore, in the case of a sound wave, we can observe a difference in tone and intensity as compared to standstill. Doppler describes sound phenomena by respective formulae and then applies them to light phenomena.

He reaches the conclusion that, when receding from the observer, the rays contained in white light change their frequency; the wavelength becomes longer, which means that violet rays turn blue; blue rays, however, through green, into yellow; yellow rays, through orange, into red; and, finally, red rays, with the increase of speed, drop out altogether, i.e. they become invisible. On the other hand, when approaching, blue rays are eliminated first; thus white light seems at first green, then blue and, finally, violet.

Doppler’s aim was to show that the extremely fast movement of a celestial body has an impact on the colour and intensity of its light. Thus, he finds a reason why the larger of the binary stars – the central star, which is most probably stationary – almost unexceptionally seems white, and the other star usually seems coloured. If both of them are of an almost equal size, both seem coloured. In this case, one of them nearly always emits light that belongs to the upper end of the spectrum, and the other star – light that belongs to the lower end of the spectrum. He finds that, in the case of binary stars of equal size, one can suppose, particularly if they revolve around a common centre of gravity, that one of them is approaching; the other, on the contrary, is receding. He draws analogous conclusions on colour changes of periodically variable stars.

Finally, he states that Bradley’s theory of aberration deals merely with the direction of the ray of light, forming thus only a part that can integrated into the new theory that has now become known as the Doppler effect.

Robert Musil
Unfriendly observations

Four satirical essays observe the conventions of their time.

Art Jubilee asks why older pictures and facades of houses are ridiculous and unpleasant to look at, or why one does not like to read yesterday’s books. The conclusion is that we are not enjoyable for ourselves if we look at ourselves from a certain distance. The mediocre art of the past has fulfilled its task and does not fire us with enthusiasm any more.

The Painter differentiates the painters and writers who are true to the style of their era from the painters and poets who always seem to belong either to the past or to the future; people are always waiting for their appearance or are complaining that they are extinct. If, however, someone is considered an embodiment of such an artist, this need not always be true.

It is beautiful here ridicules the human weakness for tasteless postcards, which, regardless of the place they depict, always seem similar. They serve as certificates that prove that the tourist has visited a special place, which even makes a person feel to be among the chosen few.

Endangered Oedipus is a slap in the face to psychoanalysis as a research method and to the Oedipus complex in particular, which for Musil is associated with the voluminously pleated skirts in ladies’ fashion of the 1870s-1880s.

Karl Landsteiner
On individual differences in human blood

In his Nobel Lecture of 1930, Landsteiner proceeds from the discovery that the proteins in individual animal and plant species differ and are characteristic of each species. This gave rise to the problem whether the differentiation extends beyond the species and whether the individuals within a species show similar, though smaller differences.

Landsteiner’s experiment consisted in causing the blood serum and erythrocytes of different human subjects to react with one another. He found that there are, basically, four different types of human blood, the so-called blood groups. The number of the groups follows from the fact that the erythrocytes contain substances (isoagglutinogens) with two different structures, of which both may be absent, or one or both present, in the erythrocytes of a person. This alone would still not explain the reactions; the active substances of the sera, the isoagglutinins, must also be present in a specific distribution. This is actually the case, since every serum contains those agglutinins which react with the agglutinogens not present in the cells. This results in certain relationships between the blood groups, which make them very easy to determine.

Comparing the results of experiments conducted by independent methods, he also assumes that the individual differences detectable by serum reactions and the individual-specific behaviour of grafted tissues are substantially of the same type, being based on chemical differences of a similar kind.

Relying on studies of antibodies in the blood, he draws conclusions on immunological factors – haptens. These vary within a species, but another peculiarity is that haptens related in their reactions frequently occur in animal species that are very far apart in the zoological system.

After his observations on the individual differences in blood and the individual peculiarities of cell antigens, Landsteiner analyzes the practical applications of his studies: differentiation between stains of human blood for forensic purposes, establishment of paternity, application of reaction of the blood group in blood transfusion.

Ingeborg Bachmann
Two essays

In the first essay, the author expresses concern that music and poetry have turned their backs on each other, but they should unite again, make themselves understandable to each other in front of the world and, as a result, give themselves up to each other.

In the second essay – in a speech made at the ceremony awarding the radio play prize on 17 March 1959 – Bachmann emphasizes that art that expresses sufferings can bring people cathartic truth.

Eve Pormeister
Ingeborg Bachmann: Unavoidable poet and hesitant hoper

The most essential representative of poetic modernism, Ingeborg Bachmann, becomes known to the public with her first collection of poems, The Extended Time [Die gestundete Zeit, 1953] and a recognized poet after the publication of the second collection of poems Call of the Great Bear [Aufrufung des Großen Bären] in 1956.

In prose, to which Bachmann transfers for several reasons, she speaks about everything that oppressed her in her poetry: tragedies of private life and murders within the framework of “allowable customs” – ways of hidden dying, mainly at the level of male-female relations. These painful experiences are masterfully reflected in the three-part cycle Ways of Dying [Todesarten], from which the novel Malina has been translated into Estonian by Helgi Loik.

Still, she is not a feminist and political but a socially alert author who is not concentrated on the role of the woman but on the phenomenon of love – how one loves.

In Bachmann’s world of thought, the circumstances in which the woman writes, the possibility of and the right to love, the creation of the “new world” and new literature are greatly connected with the relations between language and reality and language and truth – search for the correct word, which is accompanied by the belief in the power of the word as well as linguistic hesitations. Perhaps these problems induce her to deal with Ludwig Wittgenstein’s (1889-1951) Tractatus logico-philosophicus, where she encounters some of the essential concepts and phenomena for her, like the inexpressible (Unaussprechliche) and unutterable (Unaussagbare) and the border. Just the movement within the borders, where the “look is directed at the perfect, the impossible, the unattainable, be it love, freedom or any pure quantity” is essential for the writer, as she says “when contrasting the possible and the impossible we broaden our opportunity”, we grow leaning on this relation of tension.

The “new world” cannot be created by linguistic experiments. We should expect “the absolute arrangement of the word” from new literature, which in its turn, requires new thinking and morals because Karl Kraus, from Bachmann finds support, says, “All the advantages of language are rooted in morals.” The new language requires from the writer the new way of movement, i.e. a path where nothing accidental would creep into words and stories.

Ingeborg Bachmann also sees a great chance in the common movement of poetry and music, this “highest expression” or “the language superior to language”, as music can grant the participation of the word in the universal language, because music and word together can release rebellious and loving forces that implement “the strongest intention” – to have an impact.

Mari Tarvas
As a woman in the world. Women in the works of Ilse Aichinger, Marlen Haushofer, and Marlene Streeruwitz

Compared to the earlier periods, there are more women in Austrian literature of the second half of the twentieth century: both as authors and as characters. The current article regards the works of Ilse Aichinger, Marlen Haushofer, and Marlene Streeruwitz in the context of depicting women and femininity. The main characters in the books of these authors are women; the writers have taken an interest in the search for female identity and meaning of life, in the woman’s body.

The texts of Ilse Aichinger (1921) distance themselves from the traditional understanding of reality; they are dominated by irreality and threatening dreamlike experiences. The author’s interest is centred on language as the main means of expression in literature and the inadequacy of language. Everything is peculiarly open and ambiguous. In Aichinger’s main work, Die größere Hoffnung, it is conspicuous that the protagonist lacks the unambiguous feminine features. Although she carries a female name, she is rather like a child, androgynous or neuter.

Marlen Haushofer (1920-1970) is an author who in her texts narrates seemingly conventionally or even plainly and hiddenly criticizes intersexual relations. In the experiment in her best-known book Die Wand, whose undertone is critical of civilization, the woman abandons society, as this is the only solution for her. By doing so, she seems to give up her sex; she does not feel any sexual desires; only the welfare of animals and primitive existence are essential for her.

Unlike Aichinger or Haushofer, Marlene Streeruwitz (1950) applies an undisguisedly feminist paradigm. She connects the general problem of language, characteristic of the twentieth century, with the situation of women. In her opinion, the woman lacks the opportunities for shaping her own viewpoint as “the woman is excluded from the language”. Streeruwitz depicts the present-day women’s situation, which differs greatly from that of the earlier generations. Streeruwitz’s women are more independent; from affinity with men, they do not seek economic protection. To achieve independence, it is not necessary to become androgynous or to abandon society. Still, this independence, reliance only on oneself “in the world that is still governed by men” does not necessarily lead to internal freedom or experience of happiness, although a few moments of happiness may occur. These, however, are not related to the partner but to one’s own body rather, either in the meaning of autoeroticism or as a movement. Streeruwitz’s works often have a political background; the intimate, including the female body, becomes political in them.

If Aichinger and Haushofer, representatives of the 1920s generation, depict everything by means of literary pictures, then Streeruwitz is more radical and straightforward. Sibylle Cramer has seen it as the development from “female authorship to feminist literature”. All three authors were acquainted with the works of the feminist classic Simone de Beauvoir, but reached different results, including aesthetically. One cannot find solutions in their creation, but critical analysis and aesthetical-utopian experiments in order to cope somehow in this world as a woman.

Heino Arumäe
Minutes of the foreign affairs and national defence committee of the Riigivolikogu as a historical source

According to the new constitution of the Republic of Estonia that took effect on 1 January 1938, the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu) was to consist of two chambers – Riigivolikogu and Riiginõukogu. The elections of the Riigivolikogu were held on 24-25 February 1938, and its first session was on 21 April. On 5 May, the Riigivolikogu elected a nine-member foreign affairs and national defence committee that included eight members supporting the government (M. Hansen, A. Jürima, V.-G. Kadarik, A. Karineel, J. Nyman, O. Pukk, R. Riivik, L. Vahter) and the former foreign minister A. Piip as a representative of the opposition. When issues of greater significance were discussed, leading statesmen, including the opposition leader J. Tõnisson, participated at the meetings of the committee.

In March 1940, when the Soviet occupation of Estonia was impending, the minutes of the foreign affairs and national defence committee were sent to the Estonian embassy in Sweden. The last of the minutes were returned to Estonia in 2002, but the fate of some of them is still unknown.

The minutes differ in how detailed they are. In some cases, particularly after the conclusion of the mutual assistance pact between Estonia and the Soviet Union, the information shared at the meeting was considered so sensitive that the content of the discussion was not recorded in the minutes.

The most essential historical sources are the minutes that have recorded leading Estonian public officials’ and opposition representatives’ views on Estonia’s security. These explain the transition from the policy of collective security to the policy of neutrality and shed light on the circumstances that led to the conclusion of the Estonian-German non-aggression pact and the Estonian-Soviet mutual assistance pact.

From spring 1939, the committee’s assessment of international situations in
Europe turned increasingly pessimistic, and on 13 April, Foreign Minister K. Selter stated that war could start in the nearest future. The government and the army general staff were of the opinion that the main threat to Estonia was the Soviet Union; the opposition, particularly J. Tõnisson, found that the main threat was Germany.

The minutes of the joint meeting of the foreign affairs and national defence committees of both houses of the parliament of 8 June and 20 September 1938 reflect the considerations why Estonia abandoned the obligation to impose sanctions against the aggressor as stipulated by Article 16 of the League of Nations Pact and adopted the policy of neutrality.

On 25 May 1939, a heated discussion took place about concluding the
Estonian-German non-aggression pact. Foreign Minister K. Selter substantiated the need for concluding the pact; J. Tõnisson and A. Piip, however, argued against it. J. Tõnisson warned against the threat coming from Germany and claimed that Estonia had nothing to fear from the Soviet Union. He also insisted on close cooperation with Britain and the Nordic countries.

The most tragic question for the parliament, the government, the military leadership and the whole nation was the conclusion of the Estonian-Soviet mutual assistance pact. V. Molotov had proposed it to K. Selter on the evening of 24 September. On 26 September, the government decided to start negotiations about the conclusion of the pact, trying to achieve as favourable conditions as possible. The same issue was discussed on the afternoon of 26 September at the joint meeting of the foreign affairs and national defence committees of both houses of the parliament. A number of leading public officials and higher military officers were present; all the speakers at the meeting considered the conclusion of the pact inevitable. Later it was revealed that their considerations – refusal would mean war, while no help could be expected – were justified.

The ratification of the pact concluded on 28 September was discussed on 2
October. The participants expressed intriguing opinions about Estonia’s situation and future prospects and demanded the government’s resignation. The minutes of the following meetings (the last meeting was held on 10 April 1940) are of less interest for researchers.

It is obvious that the information presented to the committee by the foreign
minister and some other officials was one-sided, and the committee was not informed about all the considerations of the government and about some foreign political measures taken by it.

Published 4 January 2006
Original in English

Contributed by Akadeemia © Akadeemia Eurozine

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