Musil – Man’s Deepest Social Instinct Is His Antisocial Instinct

Robert Musil, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften [The Man Without Qualities], 1930

Ungemein viele Menschen fühlen sich heute in bedauerlichem Gegensatz stehen zu ungemein viel anderen Menschen. Es ist ein Grundzug der Kultur, dass der Mensch dem außerhalb seines eigenen Kreises lebenden Menschen aufs tiefste misstraut, also dass nicht nur ein Germane einen Juden, sondern auch ein Fußballspieler einen Klavierspieler für ein unbegreifliches und minderwertiges Wesen hält. Schließlich besteht ja das Ding nur durch seine Grenzen und damit durch einen gewissermaßen feindseligen Akt gegen seine Umgebung; ohne den Papst hätte es keinen Luther gegeben und ohne die Heiden keinen Papst, darum ist es nicht von der Hand zu weisen, dass die tiefste Anlehnung des Menschen an seinen Mitmenschen in dessen Ablehnung besteht.

Translated into English by Sophie Wilkins & Burton Pike

Regrettably, a great many people nowadays feel antagonistic toward a great many other people. It is a basic trait of civilization that man deeply mistrusts those who are outside his own circle, so it is not only the Teuton who looks down on the Jew but also the soccer player who regards the pianist as an incomprehensible and inferior creature. Ultimately a thing exists only by virtue of its boundaries, which means by a more or less hostile act against its surroundings: without the Pope there would have been no Luther, and without the pagans no Pope, so there is no getting away from the fact that man’s deepest social instinct is his antisocial instinct.

Traduzione italiana di Matteo Marini

Moltissime persone si sentono oggi in spiacevole contrasto con moltissime altre persone. È un tratto fondamentale della civiltà che l’uomo diffidi profondamente di chi vive fuori della sua cerchia, cosicché non solo il germano considera l’ebreo un essere incomprensibile e inferiore, ma anche il giocatore di calcio fa lo stesso col sonatore di piano. In fondo una cosa esiste solo mediante i suoi limiti, dunque mediante un atto in un certo senso ostile verso l’ambiente circostante; senza il papa non vi sarebbe stato nessun Lutero, e senza i pagani nessun papa, perciò è innegabile che il piú profondo attaccamento dell’uomo ai suoi simili consista nel respingerli.

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