Home Forums Aleister Crowley People Crowley and Vaihinger

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  • #107815

    Michael Staley
    Participant

    Does anyone here have any information on Crowley’s interest in or opinion of the German philosopher Hans Vaihinger (1852-1933)?

    Vaihinger was a scholar of Kant. best known today for his philosophy of ‘As-If’, upon which he expanded in his book The Philosophy of ‘As-If’, the first English translation of which was published in 1924.

    In early 1952, Germer asked Gerald Yorke to show Kenneth Grant the correspondence between Germer and Crowley. After he had read them, amongst Grant’s comments to Germer was the following:

    What is of great interest to me personally is your reference (in those letters) to Hans Vaihinger. For long I have revered him as among the very best of the Western Philosophers.

    It seems that in the late 1920s or early 1930 Germer had given a lecture on Vaihinger, and had sent a copy of his notes to Crowley, who commented in a letter of June 1930:

    Your lecture on Vaihinger is very Freudian. Your argument is (as I have often told you) the very reason why you do not get on in the world. If you are always shrinking in fear from Fortune, she naturally disdains you and kicks you.

    I infer from this that Crowley was already familiar – at least to some degree – with Vaihinger’s work.

    Is anybody aware of other references by Crowley to Vaihinger?

    #107843

    empiricus
    Participant

    No direct information but Charles Kay Ogden was one of Crowley’s acquaintances. Ogden translated a work of Vaihinger’s into English as The Philosophy of ‘As If’in 1911. Ogden’s interest in what was to become known as fictionalist theory was sustained – he edited Bentham’s Theory of Fictions in 1932. Is there any evidence in possible correspondence between Crowley and Ogden? All the best.

    #107844

    Michael Staley
    Participant

    @empiricus

    No direct information but Charles Kay Ogden was one of Crowley’s acquaintances.

    Many thanks for that information, empiricus. I’m not aware of any correspondence between Ogden and Crowley, but I’ll check the Warburg catalogues.

    The date of the first publication in English is given in my edition as 1924. 1911 was the year that Vaihinger first published the book, though he had written it thirty years earlier. Link to Wikipedia artcle:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Vaihinger

    It’s possible of course that Ogden had translated it into English many years ealier, but was unable to find a publisher for it and was circulating it to interested people. In support of this theory, that was a chapter on Vaihinger’s Philosophy of the ‘As If’ in Quests Old and New by G.R.S Mead which was published in 1913.

    My own interest in Vaihinger came about when writing an article about Spare’s influence on Kenneth Grant. Grant said that he had introduced Spare to Vaihinger’s work in 1949 or the early 1950s. The influence of ‘As If’ can be seen primarily in sone of the Logomachy oracles included in Zos Speaks, as well as in some other texts, in particular ‘The Formula of Arrivism’. In 1954 Grant completed a study of Spare’s work, entitled The Zoëtic Grimoire of Zos, which includes sections on the place of ‘As If’ in Spare’s mystical philosophy of the Zos and the Kia. The study remained unpublished, but is extant in two variant typescripts. Some of the material was carried forward into Images & Oracles of Austin Osman Spare and chapters on Spare in the early volumes of the Typhonian Trilogies.

    #107845

    empiricus
    Participant

    Take a look at this from Ogden’s wiki entry, it says there: “Although neither a trained philosopher nor an academic, Ogden had a material effect on British academic philosophy. The Meaning of Meaning enunciated a theory of emotivism.[49] Ogden went on to edit as Bentham’s Theory of Fictions (1932) a work of Jeremy Bentham, and had already translated in 1911 as The Philosophy of ‘As If’ a work of Hans Vaihinger, both of which are regarded as precursors of the modern theory of fictionalism.[50]” Italics mine for emphasis. here is the link to the page: Now,that is says so in wiki don’t make it true – it could well be a cofusion or simple mistake – especially as the original publication in German is cited as 1911.

    I have not seen any Ogden/Crowley correspondence personally but have seen references to 3 letters from Ogden to AC between 1929 -1930 – one in a pdf list of a miscellaneous collection of letters to AC, 1929-30 and the other two in a catalogue of Crowleyana, Jan 1951 said to be in the possession of Gerald Yorke and the Francis King collection. Without further work, don’t know where you may find those now without further research, but you may have a better idea than me!

    Many thanks for sharing your interest. Might Grant’s 1954 study get published one day? All the best.

    #107846

    empiricus
    Participant

    Sorry, here is the promised link to Ogden’s wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Kay_Ogden

    #107847

    Michael Staley
    Participant

    @empiricus

    Thanks for the Wiki link re Ogden. Very interesting. I’ll follow up the correspondence between he and Crowley.

    There’s a lot of unpublished material by Kenneth Grant that I hope will be published over the next few years, including The Zoëtic Grimoire of Zos.

    #107848

    empiricus
    Participant

    The only quick reference I can find to a Crowley/Ogden meeting is in Kaczynski’s Perdurabo, revised and expanded edition 2010, last paragraph on page 440,looks like the timing was after June 11 1929 – a year or so before the comment in his letter to Germer cited above: “While in London, Crowley visited some of his acquaintances, including Gwen Otter, Montgomerey Evans II, and linguist Charles Kay Ogden (1889-1957).” Presume the evidence for that is from a diary reference. Be very interested to hear whatever else you may uncover about Crowley’s familiarity with and interest in Vaihinger’s ideas.

    #107849

    Michael Staley
    Participant

    @empiricus

    Many thanks for that reference. Crowley’s diary for 1929 is sparse, but there is an entry for Saturday 29th June: “Lunch Ogden”. Not to say that they ever discussed German philosophy in general and Vaihinger in particular, of course, but there must be a good chance that they did.

    Thanks for all your replies to my queries, since apart from anything else they’ve suggested some other lines of research.

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