Attachement to the letter to Henryk Markiewicz written 16.03.1964
v Prof. Markiewicz gave me a typed manuscript of his reviewer’s response to my article to read and expressed the wish that I, for my part, would reply to his critical remarks. After acquainting myself with the manuscript, and following a three-hour oral discussion with Prof. Markiewicz, I arrived at the conviction that our views on a number of issues do not differ as greatly as it seemed to me after reading Prof. M’s articles. I have the impression that the appearance of a fairly significant difference on several issues has its source first and foremost in the fact that Prof. M. employed, in his arguments, his own manner of understanding a number of terms rather than relying on the meanings that I have explicitly given them in my books. This applies to words such as ‘object’, ‘concept’, ‘meanings of a word’, etc. In addition, in his remarks, he makes use of certain phrases of his own whose semantic and syntactic properties lead the reader to an understanding different to that intended by Prof. M. (e.g. ‘semantic system’). As a result, various misunderstandings arose between the interlocutors, which have been largely clarified in oral conversation, thus leading, on a number of issues, to a reconciliation of views. Nevertheless, on several issues, we have not succeeded in eliminating the difference between our views. In particular:
v ad 1. The expression ‘higher semantic system’ suggested to me the thought that this system itself consists of meanings, e.g. how a set of sentences is composed of sentences, a sentence of the meaning of the words of which it is composed. The difference between the objects presented in the work (which, according to Prof. M., are supposed to constitute those ‘higher semantic systems’) and the sentences composing the text of the work would be only that the latter are effective components of the text of the work, and are in a state of certain potentiality designated by the text itself. With this understanding of the text of Prof. M’s article, I answer: ‘No object presented in a literary work is a “higher-order semantic system”’. Mr Wołodyjowski [a character in a novel of the same name by Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846–1916), translated as Fire on the Steppe] is not composed of meanings, e.g. sentences, nor does he possess properties specific to meanings or their systems. Rather, he possesses a selection of features and behaviours ascribed to him by sentences appearing in the Trilogy [of Sienkiewicz: Ogniem i Mieczem, Potop, Pan Wołodyjowski; translated as With Fire and Sword, The Deluge, and Fire on the Steppe] and which relate in some way to Mr Wołodyjowski. In conversation with me, however, Prof. M. clarified that he didn’t understand the term ‘semantic system’ in this way – that the intention of the word ‘semantic’ should be understood much in the same way as ‘arising from the meanings’ or ‘determined by the meanings’ of linguistic creations. Thus, it seemed that our views on the objects presented were virtually identical. Prof. M. continued to state, however, that he would not wish to consider or call these objects intentional objects. He also noted, though, that he had no fundamental objections to the recognition of intentional objects and was willing to accept them in certain cases. Based on Prof. M’s first two articles, I’d received the impression that he did have such basic objections to intentional objects, and thus was protesting not only against the introduction of presented objects into meanings, but also against the rejection of other types of intentional objects as linguistic creations in themselves, i.e. as their meanings and other cultural products.
v ad 2. Prof. M. uses the word object to mean ‘thing’, whereas I use it to mean ‘anything’, and the phrase presented object to mean ‘everything that is presented’ (dargestellt [German: presented, shown]) by means of language in a literary work. Then things, like events and like processes presented in a work, belong to the layer of presented objects. From our conversation I received the impression that Prof. M. agrees to this, although he indicated his sympathy for so-called reism.
v ad 3. The difference in the understanding of the word concept prompted Prof. M. to cite his examples as proof that the layer of presented objects included, inter alia, concepts. However, these examples were either unconvincing, or concerned not concepts but objects of general concepts such as love or wisdom – general objects in e.g. Twardowski’s or ideas in my terminology, or, ultimately, their equivalents, which are certain general dependent moments of individual facts. Concepts are general or specific, i.e. individual; they possess scope and content to the extent that they are object concepts; they can be divided into object-related and functors, etc. None of this has any reasonable application to love or wisdom at all, to which one or another apostrophe can be found in poetic works.
v ad 4. As to the issue of appearances, it seems to me that we did not succeed in reaching agreement in our views. I think that perhaps I could manage this if I could, along with Prof. M., carry out numerous analyses of sensual perceptions and make him see not only the whole diverse field of perceptive appearances but also their function in the manifestation of specific objects. Perhaps then I would manage to convince Prof. M. that neither the appearances themselves nor even the ‘pattern of appearances kept in readiness’ are identical to the imaginative pictures experienced by the reader in the course of reading. Prof. M. believes that appearances are supposed to be something ‘next to’ objects, something presented separately, which obviously has no application either to appearances or to specific observations experienced or designated in a literary work.
v ad 5. The example of Pan Tadeusz remained a point of contention, as I’m not concerned with what steps a qualified reader may take one way or another, but about what the text designates, in a suggestive manner, in the understanding of both linguistic layers of the work. And in this respect, Mickiewicz’s text seems to me incomparably more effective than the text quoted by Prof. M. Nor do I know why Prof. M. imputes to me the view that, in the case I am quoting, there are supposed to be only ‘bare meanings’, whereas in the example given by Prof. M. these ‘bare meanings’ are not supposed to be present. Anyway, in the book Das literarische Kunstwerk [The Literary Work of Art], I discussed, separately, the issue of which factors of the language of the work are responsible for appearances ‘kept in readiness’. There was no mention there of bare meanings.
v ad. 6. No agreement was reached on the issue of the state of affairs. It’s true, as I myself indicated in Das literarische Kunstwerk, that in order to designate a certain intentional state of affairs in its original specific structure, it’s necessary to think of a sentence that defines it, but this doesn’t mean at all that it is impossible to speak of it and to state its various properties in judgments pronounced in other adjudicating sentences. I pointed out the differences between the state of affairs and the sentence defining them in Das literarische Kunstwerk (anyway, they are also known from other sources) as well as in my previous article; I have nothing to add to this. In the article contained in Sketches on the Philosophy of Literature I didn’t deal with the state of affairs, but this doesn’t mean that I ‘dispensed with the state of affairs’ there. The article is a small fragment of an extensive work, in which, inter alia, states of affairs and their role in the literary work were to be discussed.
v ad 7. The examples that were supposed to convince me that there can be, in one language, unambiguous sentences (instead of, as I would have expressed it, repetition of the same sentence) are not convincing. At best, these are equivalent sentences, as their various components are not identical. ‘In the morning’ is not the same as ‘morning’; ‘he stayed in the house’ is not the same as ‘he stopped in the house’; ‘spend time’ = ‘stay’, ‘rest’ = ‘relax’, etc. In each of these examples there are some small, but perhaps, in literary terms, even very important, nuances in meaning, and if there were none, the same sentence would be written twice.
v ad 8. We could not agree as to what Prof M. calls the ‘expressive qualities’ of the sounds of words. I obtained his agreement only that – as I said – they are ‘embedded’ in the sound of some words; however, Prof. M. also stated that they are not the ‘sound’ of a word – which, of course, I say myself – but only its ‘meaning’, which I of course deny, because they are certain particular visual phenomenal characteristics of the sound of a word, whereas meaning is never anything quite so visual. Anyway, it turned out in the course of the conversation that by ‘meaning’ (die Bedeutung [German: the meaning]), Prof. M understands ‘that which is meant’ (das Bedeute), as to which I, of course, draw a basic distinction, whereas with regard to those qualities embedded in the sound of a word, I’m not concerned with ‘expressive’ qualities, for these impose themselves or are imposed on the listener by means of tone of the statement and not merely the sound of the word, which is a certain typical formal quality which can be revealed in various tones spoken in specific oral material.
v ad 9. I’ve never denied that the role of the record of a work is important for preserving the identity of the work. I stated only that the ‘record’ is not itself a component of the literary work. At the same time, it is neither a sufficient nor an indispensable condition of the identity of the work.
v ad 10. I’m very sorry that I applied the phrase about the ‘umpire’s chair’ to Juliusz Kleiner. The range of Kleiner’s vast knowledge is well known to and greatly appreciated by me. Nevertheless I stand by the statement that the opinions of Kleiner’s quoted by Prof M. are not based on detailed studies whose performance might have provided material to substantiate his claims, but rather have a postulative character, or that of a certain theoretical ideal.
v ad 11. Doubtless it was not from any wish to denigrate the role of this book that Prof. M. gave the date of the Polish edition of Das literarische Kunstwerk. Nevertheless, this date appears in that part of Prof. Markiewicz’s arguments devoted to the history of the issue, and there it figures in a manner unfavourable to its author.
v I think that on this note our discussion will conclude for the time being. If it has enabled our readers to think through some contentious issues concerning the construction of a literary work afresh, we’ll both be handsomely rewarded thereby.