Khesrau Behroz

Appearance of profound speech

In 1805 Hegel wrote to Johann Heinrich Voss, who had translated Homer into German dactylic hexameters: “I should like to say of my aspirations that I shall try to teach philosophy to speak German.” Avoiding Greek, Latin, and French terms, Hegel created an involved German terminology, devising elaborate locutions that make his prose utterly forbidding. […] Yet Hegel was assuredly wrong when he went on to say, in the next sentence of his letter: “Once that is accomplished, it will be infinitely more difficult to give shallowness the appearance of profound speech.” On the contrary. Nothing serves as well as obscurity to make shallowness look profound.

– Walter Kaufmann: introduction to his translation of Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals

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