Is the Mahabharat a myth or a reality

On the back of turtles

By Michael Mandelartz
Status: November 11, 2020. First version: January 4, 2006.

Preliminary remark - Kurma avatara - Indian sayings - Baldaeus - Fontenelle - Locke - Leibniz - Shaftesbury - Hutcheson - Diderot - Lessing - Hume - Mendelssohn - Rousseau - Winckelmann - Herder - Wieland - Goethe - Adelung - Volney - Wollstonecraft - Maimon - Fichte - Herbert and Niethammer - Nicolai - Lichtenberg - Bouterwek - Jacobi - Krug - Hegel - Baggesen - Irving - Adam Müller - Görres - Coleridge - Creuzer - Mary Shelley - Weber - Heinrich Stieglitz - Feuerbach - Godwin - Balzac - Chalybäus - Kerner - A. v. Humboldt - Thoreau - de Quincey - Holt - Lange - Hartmann - Fontane - Nietzsche - Ackland - Draw - Rilke - Scheerbart - James - Chesterton - Mauthner - Cassirer - Shaw - Lukács - Russell - Sellars - Geertz - Hawking - Knorr Cetina - notes

Preliminary remark

The anecdote about the world-bearing turtle was probably first transferred to Europe by Jesuits from India. In Hinduism, the turtle is one of the ten incarnations of Vishnu. Athanasius Kircher speaks in China Monumentis (1667) of ten 1. He legitimizes the pagan myths by showing that they agree with the biblical teachings. Philippus Baldaeus, who himself worked as a missionary in South and Southeast Asia, goes into the myth more clearly and in more detail than Kircher. According to Vishnu, in his second transformation as a turtle, Vishnu erects the (world) mountain Mahameru, which had fallen into the sea, on his back. .

The biblical analogies and Catholic or Protestant partial justifications lost their validity, however, as soon as the heliocentric worldview was taken for granted, God was only granted the role of the first mover and the world was explained on the basis of rational principles. In Fontenelles first published in 1686, as far as I can see, the anecdote of those who let the world be carried by four elephants appears for the first time. But it developed the greatest effect in the version that John Locke gave it in his main work (1689). In his case, the Indian way of the world only gives the information when asked by an Englishman that the world rests on an elephant, the latter on a turtle and the latter on. This may indicate that Locke had reports from British colonial traders. From Locke and Fontenelle the anecdote, often shortened to a metaphor, is passed on to the latest theory of science, according to Sellars probably without knowledge of its origin. The picture is designed for, but at the same time open to a wide variety of contents and even contradicting interpretations. Within European philosophy, the anecdote can therefore run through several problem areas from cosmology to substance accidents, aesthetics and ultimate justification. The evidence becomes particularly dense, beginning with Salomon Maimon, in the discussion of Kant's transcendental philosophy (Maimon, Fichte, Nicolai, Bouterwek, Jacobi, Krug, Hegel). Dieter Henrich examined the migration of the motif in philosophy around 1800 with a view to Hegel,1a and Monika Tokarzewska follows it (in connection with the other motif of the Archimedean point) as the metaphorical basis of Fichte's philosophy.1b

After 1800, at the latest after the Indian studies of Friedrich and August Wilhelm Schlegel, Indian cosmogony was probably part of educational knowledge. As such, it quotes Washington Irving in his collection of theories of origins of the world. Perhaps Irving also transferred the philosophical variant of the anecdote from England to America: In the 1820s he belonged to the circle of Mary Shelley,2 in whose family it appears to have played a major role: it appears in the Introduction to Shelleys (1831 edition), in the pamphlet written by her mother Mary Wollstonecraft (1792) and in (1831) by her father William Godwin. For the first time, Irving gives it the ironic tone that determines American reception: in principle, all myths are equal, everyone can choose his own, and those that only give a selection of many ways to explain the world to oneself. At the same time, the theme of astronomy, which was also shaping American reception, is revived, with natural science taking the place of logic and metaphysics. The question of the truth has played out with Irving. At the latest with Thoreau and the Christian mass writer Joseph Holt, the anecdote is likely to have gained some popularity in the USA. From here she penetrates Christian fundamentalism (e.g. Ackland), but Holt is also the first to bring the rationalist's question to the naive: This is probably followed by the currently rumored story of the old lady who thinks about a philosopher is not shaken by her mythical worldview (Hawking).

The return from literature to philosophy, this time American, takes place at Thoreau. His first version ties in with Irving's joy in playing with myths for no reason, while the second brings, with a culture-critical intention, the contrast between the granite foundation and the talk of people who just talk to each other lean instead of lean to something to prop up again the truth and its reason into play. William James adds, literally referring to Thoreau, the two separate moments in one phrase against Thoreau reunites by evaluating the baselessness positively: The scientific experiments, however, rest on nothing overall and thus expose themselves to the reproach on the part of the lack of a final justification. The pragmatist can, however, forego the consent of Thoreau or European metaphysicians. Instead of relying on reasons, he prefers to rely on his strength to cope with them. The argument thus returns to the empiricist Locke, who rejected the concept of substance as inexplicable, as dubious behind things. What is the substance with Locke, is the reason with James. However, Locke still assigns his opponents the position of Indian philosopher, while James sees himself moved into the position of irrationalist - and accepts it. The problem history of the continental philosophy after Locke can skip who is enough. Half a century later, however, Sellars felt compelled to eliminate James 'or, in Sellars' own terminology, and introduce distinctions that were confusingly similar to those of the European tradition.

The positiveization of the myth is continued with Clifford Geertz, who reverses the perspective: it is no longer a European story of an Indian, but an Indian story of a European. Science, which asks for reasons, can easily be made ridiculous in the form of the ethnographer and anthropological cultural studies can be linked to the myth as an incomplete, because unfounded undertaking. Stephen Hawking transfers this argumentation pattern back to current natural science, and Karin Knorr Cetina lastly thankfully describes that this is actually the case: they have meanwhile not only said goodbye to the reasons, but also to nature.

It is characteristic of the more recent reception of Locke's anecdote that the authors take no notice of its origin or the context of its problem and consequently fall back on the discussion status of Indian mythology. Space and time purr together: with Geertz on the intimacy of the conversation, with Hawking on the discourse about science that vouches for. In both cases, the myth is no longer that of reason, but is embedded in science itself. Hawking no longer mentions India, and one wonders where the old lady got the bizarre idea that the earth is carried by a giant tortoise. In return, science itself becomes a myth. In the last chapter of Hawking's book, these and them stand side by side on an equal footing, and rightly so, because no one can rely on intuition. That Hawking seeks the relative superiority of the very fact that it does not predict that one could fall down at the edge of the earth is at best a weak argument - quite apart from the fact that probably no supporter would ever say so. Because the superiority of the is based only on the fact that it does not offer a criterion for falsification - and this would probably be more of an argument against than for her. Epistemologically, it has achieved the same status as myth, and it does not claim to be any more; it is enough to write bestsellers and raise research funding.

Only after the anecdote's past has been forgotten can it become a so-called myth of the Internet with its own article in Wikipedia. The myth has arrived here and now, the time of history eliminated: says Wikipedia.3

Kurma awatara,

Vishnu as a turtle. Source:
Vollmer's Dictionary of Mythology.

(Ind. M.), the embodiment of the god Vishnu in a turtle. The gods fought with the giants, the immortality potion was to be prepared, and they called the god of air, the monkey Baali, to move the world mountain Mandar, for which the eternal serpent Addisseschen was used by wrapping it around the mountain as a rope. The mountain threatened to sink into the sea of ​​milk in which it stood, when Vishnu supported him in his second embodiment as a turtle, on which the mountain and the world now rests.

Dr. Vollmer's dictionary of the mythology of all peoples. Newly edited by Dr. W. Binder. 3rd edition Stuttgart: Hoffmann'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung 1874, p. 303. See also Art. Wischnu in Meyer's Konversations-Lexikon (1890) and the Mahabharata, chap. XVIII.

Indian sayings

1534. (598.) The earth wavers, although a turtle, main mountains, world elephants and a serpent king hold it; the promise of pure-minded men does not falter, even when the world comes to an end.

Indian sayings. Sanskrit and German. Edited by Otto Böthlingk. Osnabrück: Zeller; Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 1966 (reprint of St. Petersburg 1870-1873), vol. 1, p. 294.

Philip Baldaeus

Truly Detailed Description Of The Famous East Indian Coasts Of Malabar And Coromandel, ... (1672)

We now want to go further and speak of the second transformation into a turtle / to / to support the wobbling and falling world.
The 33 gods and 66 Adires gathered in the milk lake (the Heyden thinks this is certain), from whom some suggestions were made beforehand / so that they would like to take away the Ambrosiam, with them Amurtam, with other Amortam, too (as reported by the Heyden been named Amratam. Others tell / that Vistnum and Ixora were supposed to have called the good and bad spirits together for a time / to invent something of sotanous power / that those / who would enjoy it / should no longer starve or thirst / nor cause fatigue or death to arise for them. One should then have found it good / to throw the mountain Mahameru (which Rogerius Merouwa calls) into the sea / and that it should be turned over like a wood at the lathe. Instead of a rope one should have used the great lash Harugu, called by the highly learned Braminen Sescha (what word must be pronounced with a doubled tongue against the palate.) This lash is so large that it encircles the seven worlds and oceans. So then these heroes started to wire and squirm / but as they saw / that the mountain remained immobile / so they called for the help of Baly, a famous monkey / what will be said afterwards in the story of Siri Rama. How Baly came to their aid / it happened / that said mountain went around / there they find a beautiful woman / called Dara / whom they dedicated to Baly for his work; When they continued their work / behold, the mountain fell into the sea / while no one saw a yard / to set it up again / one desires the help of Vistnum, who changed into a turtle / and, submerging in the sea, raises the mountain again. With what then these Heyden want to make to understand / that God supports the world / like Hebr. I. is taught; to the extent that Heyden also fabulate from Atlas / his seven daughters should be the Pleiades and Hesperides. Here Vistnum found a beautiful image of a woman, Macha Lecxemi, which he took as his wife / and used her for his main feeling: then it seems / the head of the snake (previously reported) was a bit too hard for him; but because this mountain was a little too high / so Vistnum turned into a bird / flew around it / and humiliated it as it should be.

Truly detailed description of the famous East Indian coasts of Malabar and Coromandel, as well as the island of Zeylon ... Amsterdam: von Waesberge, von Someren 1672, p. 474 (II, 2).

Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle

Conversations about the multitude of worlds (1686)

[To the rotation of the earth around itself:], I replied to her,

replied the marquise,

I said to this,

she made another objection,

, I answered,

she explained as if in anger,

I replied to her

she exclaimed.

I said now and laughed at her idea;

Fontenelle: Conversations about the multitude of worlds. In: Philosophical News for People of the World and for Scholars. Selected Writings. Edited by Helga Bergmann, trans. v. Ulrich Kunzmann. Leipzig: Reclam 1989, pp. 32-34

John Locke

Experiment on the human mind (1689)

[Book II, Chapter 13,] § 19. (Substances and accidents are of little use in philosophy.) When one first came across the concept of accidents, as a kind of things that needed to be appended, one had to use the word Inventing substance to wear. If the poor Indian philosopher (who thought that the earth also needed something it carried) had only known the word substance, he would not have had to bother with his elephant, which was supposed to carry it, and not with the turtle, for the one To carry elephants; the word: substance would have done this on its own. And the Indian philosopher could have answered the question what substance is, quite well, without knowing what it is, that it is what the earth bears, since it is considered to be a sufficient answer and a good teaching, if a European philosopher, without knowing what the substance is, says that it is what the accidents are. Hence one has no idea of ​​what substance is, but only a confused and obscure idea of ​​what it does.

[Book II, Chapter 23,] § 2. (Our conception of substance in general.) If someone therefore tests himself with regard to his concept of substance in general, it turns out that he is only not closer to the conception of one has known bearers of such properties that simple ideas can arouse in us, and these properties are usually called the accidents. If one asks what it is to which the colors or the heaviness are attached, then only the extensive, dense parts can be named, and if one asks to whom the density and expansion is attached, the answerer is in no better position than the Indian mentioned earlier who, on his statement that the world was carried by a large elephant, was asked what the elephant was based on; he then named a large turtle, and when asked what the broad-backed turtle was carrying, he replied, "Something, but he didn't know what." Here, as in all cases where one uses words without clear and distinct ideas, one speaks like children who, when asked what it is that they do not know, immediately answer: something. With children as with adults this means in such a case that they do not know what, and that they have no specific idea at all of the things they know and want to discuss, rather they do not know it at all and are in the dark.

Experiment on the human mind. In four books. Translated and explained by J. H. von Kirchmann, Berlin: L. Heimann 1872 (Philosophical Library, Vol. 51) - Online (English).

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

New Treatises on the Human Mind (1704)

Jan Boeckhorst (1604-1668): The geometry. Source: picture index.

Philalethes. There is no other concept of mere substance in general than of an entirely unknown subject, who is supposed to be the bearer of properties. We express ourselves like children who have not been asked as soon as they are asked what a certain thing they do not know when they give what they think is a very satisfactory answer that it is something that, when applied in this way, says that it is don't know what it is.

Theophilus.If one distinguishes between two things in substance, the attributes or predicates and the common subject of these predicates, it is no wonder that one cannot think of anything special about this subject. It must be like that, because you have separated all the attributes through which you could think of something special. To demand anything more in this mere subject than is necessary in order to think that it is the same (that is, who imagines and wants, exercises fantasy and power of thought) means asking for the impossible and contradicting one's own presupposition, according to which one abstracts and the subject from has perceived his own characteristics or accidents separately. This alleged difficulty could also be asserted with the concept of being and in general with all very clear original concepts, for one could ask the philosophers what they think of the mere thing at all, since one can also use it after every peculiarity through it it is impossible to know just as little to say as to the question of what pure substance actually is. So I believe that the philosophers do not deserve to be mocked, as is done here, by comparing them with the Indian sage who answered the question by what the earth was held by, by a great elephant, and then to the question, what was holding the elephant replied that it was a large turtle and, finally, when he was urged to say what the turtle was relying on, he was forced to explain that it was something he did not know. However, this consideration of substance, however unimportant it may seem, is not as empty and sterile as one might think. From this emerge the most important consequences for philosophy, which are capable of giving it a new look.

New Treatises on the Human Mind. trans. v. C. Schaarschmidt. 2nd edition Leipzig: Dürr 1904 (Philosophical Library, vol. 69), 2nd book, chap. XXIII, § 2.

Anthony Shaftesbury

The moralists (1709)

And in fact, I went on, one should not imagine how beautiful it is to use a fairy tale to feed others as children too; and how much would the majority of people prefer to be paid with this paper coin than with all-important reasons of reason. We just don't have a reason to laugh at the Indian philosophers so much when they answer their people when asked what this enormous world structure is based on: on an elephant. - And the elephant? - A recent question! which one shouldn't answer cheaply. Only here are our Indian philosophers to be criticized. You should be satisfied with the elephant and go no further. But they still have a turtle in store whose back, they think, is wide enough. So the turtle has to bear the new burden: and so the matter is on worse feet than before.

The moralists. In: The Earl of Shaftesbury's Philosophical Works. Leipzig: Weygand 1776-1779, Vol. II, p. 247 f. - online.

Francis Hutcheson

An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (1725)

THIS natural determination to approve and admire, or hate and dislike Actions, is, no doubt, an occult quality. But is it any way more mysterious, that the Idea of ​​an Action should raise Esteem or Contempt, than that the motion or tearing of Flesh should give Pleasure or Pain; or the Act of Volition should move Flesh other Bones? In the latter case, we have got the brain, and elastic fibers, and animal spirits, and elastic fluids, like the Indians Elephant, Tortoise, to bear the Burden of the Difficulty: but go one Step farther, and you find the whole as difficult as at first, and equally a Myxtery with this determination to love and approve, or condemn and despise Actions other Agents, without any views of Interest, as they appear benevolent, or the contrary.

An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue. 4th Ed. London: Midwinter 1738, p. 272-73.

Denis Diderot

Letter about the blind (1749)

Allegory of the world in the Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris. From top to bottom: celestial globe with ecliptic, four continents, horses of Poseidon, world-bearing turtles. Source: own picture, summer 2005.

When he was dying [Nicolas Saunderson, 1682-1739, blind professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, wrote] a very skilled clergyman, Mr. Gervasius Holmes, was called to him. They had a conversation about the existence of God. We have received a few fragments of it, which I want to translate for you as well as possible: for that is worth the effort. The clergyman first held up to him the wonders of nature. replied the blind philosopher,

replied the clergyman deftly,

Saunderson replied,

Letter about the blind. For use by the sighted. With an addendum. In: Denis Diderot: Philosophical writings. Ed. And transl. v. Theodor Lücke, Vol. 1. Berlin: Structure 1961, p. 78 f. - French original online.

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

To Mr. Marpurg (1749)

The gossip has the fame: the master has the trouble.
It's the rule's fault, and that's why I blame them.
But do you think that they are useful to the master?
One is mistaken; that meant supporting the world with elephants.

Works. Edited by Herbert G. Göpfert et al. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 1996, Vol. II, p. 167

David Hume

Dialogues on Natural Religion (1751)

How, then, should we satisfy ourselves with regard to the cause of the being which, according to your assumption, is the author of nature, or, according to your system of anthropomorphism, with regard to the world of the imagination to which you attribute this material one? Do we not have the same reason to reduce this world of imagination to another world of imagination, to a new thinking principle? Or if we stop here and don't go any further, why go so far? Why not stop at the material world? How can we be satisfied with ourselves without going away in infinitum? And then what is the sufficiency in this infinite progress? Let us remember the story of the Indian philosopher and his elephant. Nowhere is it more applicable than in the present case. If the material world is based on a similar world of representation, then this world of representation must again be based on another, and so without end. It would therefore be better not to look beyond this material world at all. If we suppose that it contains the principle of its order in itself, we are in fact claiming that it is God; and the sooner we come to this divine being, the better. If you go a step beyond the world system, you only arouse an urge to inquire, which it is always impossible to satisfy.

Dialogues about natural religion. About suicide and immortality of the soul. Translated into German and provided with an introduction by Friedrich Paulsen. 3rd edition Leipzig: Felix Meiner 1905, p. 68 f.

Moses Mendelssohn

Reflections on the Sources and Connections of Fine Arts and Sciences (1757)

Until then, let it be admitted that imitation of nature is the only reason why we like the fine arts. But will that have pushed our ignorance more than one step further? As if Batteux were asked what kind of means did nature use to please us? And why do we like imitation? Wouldn't he be just as embarrassed as that Indian wise man when he asked the well-known question: And what does the great turtle rest on?

Reflections on the sources and connections of the fine arts and sciences. In: Collected Writings. Anniversary edition. Berlin, Stuttgart: Akademie-Verlag, Fromman 1929 ff., Vol. 1, p. 169. First in: Library of the beautiful sciences and the free arts 1757, 1st vol., 2nd St., pp. 231-268, here p. 234 f. - online.

Moses Mendelssohn

Jerusalem or about religious power and Judaism (1783)

When judging the concepts of religion of an otherwise unknown nation, one must, for the very reason, be careful not to combine everything native To see eyes, so as not to call idolatry, which is basically just maybe font is. [...] When the temple was sacked, the conquerors of Jerusalem found the cherubim on the ark of the covenant and believed them to be the idols of the Jews. They saw everything with barbaric eyes, and from their point of view. They took an image of divine providence and prevailing grace, according to their custom, for the image of the Godhead, for the Godhead himself, and rejoiced in their discovery. So the readers are still laughing at the Indian ways of the world, which allow this universe to be carried by elephants; place the elephant on a large turtle, hold it by a monstrous bear, and let the bear rest on an immense snake. The good people probably didn't think of the question; on what is the immeasurable serpent resting?

Now read in the Shasta the Gentoos even the passage in which a symbol of this kind is described, which probably gave rise to this legend. I borrow it from the second part of the News from Bengal and the Indostan Empire by J. Z. Hollwell, who was instructed in the sacred books of the Gentoos, and was able to see with the eyes of a native Braminen. These are the words in the eighth section:

Modu and Kytu (two monsters, discord and revolt,) were overcome, and now the Eternal emerged from invisibility, and glory surrounded him on all sides.
The Eternal said: You Burma, (Power of creation)! create and form all things of the new creation with the spirit that I breathe into you. - And you, Bistnu, (Conservation power)! protect and maintain the created things and forms; according to my instructions. - And you, Sieve, (Destruction, transformation)! transform the things of the new creation and transform them with the power that I will give you.
Burma, Bistnu and Sieve heard the words of the Eternal, stooped and obeyed.
Immediately swam Burma on the surface of the Johala (Depth of sea,) and the children Modu and Kytu fled and disappeared when he appeared.
As by the spirit of the Burma the movements of the depths subsided, changed Bistnu into a mighty one bear (Sign of strength among the Gentoos, because in proportion to its size it is the strongest animal), descended into the depths of the Johala, and drew his tusks Murto (the earth) to light. - Then a powerful one sprang from it willingly turtle (Sign of consistency among the Gentoos) and a powerful one Snake (same signs of wisdom) and Bistnu set the earth up on the turtle's back, and sat Murto on the head of the serpent and so on

All of this can be found with them presented in pictures, and one can see how easily such symbols and pictorial writing can lead to errors.

Jerusalem or about religious power and Judaism. In: Moses Mendelssohn's Complete Works. Furnace: Burian 1819-1825, Vol. 5, pp. 155-158.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The new Heloise (1761)

Farewell, my dear and dear friend. If I believed that happiness could make you happy, I would say to you: run according to happiness. But perhaps you have reason to despise it with so many treasures that you can escape it. I would rather tell you: run for bliss; that is the happiness of the wise. We have always felt that there is none without virtue. But be careful that this word virtue has no concept that is too isolated and no more glamor than thoroughness, nor is it a name for a parade that serves to blind others more than to amuse ourselves. I tremble when I think about the fact that people who have adultery at the bottom of their hearts were allowed to speak of virtue! Do you know what such a venerable and desecrated word meant for us as long as we lived in a criminal association? It was senseless love, from which we were both kindled, which concealed their entrances under this holy enthusiasm in order to make it even more pleasant for us and to seduce us longer. We were made, I venture to believe it, to follow true virtue and to love it: but we deceived each other by looking for it and only followed a vain pipe dream. It is time for the delusion to stop; it is time to come back from a very long aberration. My friend, this return will not be difficult for you. You have your guide in yourself; You couldn't respect him, but you never turned him back. Your soul is healthy; she clings to everything that is good, and if she sometimes misses it, it happens because she has not used all her strength to hold onto it. Go inside yourself and see if you might not find in your conscience some forgotten principle which would serve; to arrange all your actions better, to connect them more thoroughly with one another and with a common object. Believe me, it is not enough for virtue to be the ground of its performance unless you put that ground itself on an immovable ground. Do you remember those Indians who let the world rest on a large elephant, and the elephant again on a turtle; and if you ask them what the turtle is resting on, they have nothing more to say.

The new Heloise or letters of two lovers, from a small town at the foot of the Alps. Leipzig: Weidmann 1761. Vol. 3, Letter XX, pp. 169-171.

Johann Joachim Winckelmann

Attempt at an allegory, especially for art (1766)

Egyptian obelisk in the Boboli Gardens, Florence and detail: turtle. Source: own picture, summer 2013.

Strength was indicated by the ankle, that is, by that bone by which the foot is connected to the leg, which Malleolus or Talus [...] called. [...] On these four pieces by Ertzt stood and still stands the obeliscus of Neocorus in the square of St. Peters Church; but these astragali are covered, or rather clothed, by four lions by Ertzte, because it was wanted to place the coat of arms of Pope Sixtus V in these animals. So these lions have a certain meaning that cannot be found in the turtles of Ertzte, on which a small obeliscus in the Villa Medicis stands. Perhaps the person who gave them had news of the large turtle of the Indians, which serves the elephant as a base, on whose back the globe rests.

Johann Joachim Winckelmann: Attempt at an allegory, especially for art. Dresden: Waltherische Hof-Buchhandlung 1766, p. 62.

Johann Gottfried Herder

Fragments to a (1769)

The sensual concept of it [from the beginning of the world, explained metaphysically and scientifically] is a delusion, no matter how ready your children and infants may exclaim forgive the Orient [who wrote the biblical story of creation] that he knew nothing of this proud, illusory splendor, and his Creation of an earthy desert covered with sea and night began! It is true that this eternal earth was like that Indian turtle on which the earth carrier, the elephant, rested: but how? if no sensual Indian ever thought of asking what the turtle was resting on? and no sensual oriental had it in mind to ask: what was going on before this earthy desert? An earthy desert: he couldn't see any further, for eternal night lay on it.

Fragments to one. In: Herder's entire works. Edited by Bernhard Suphan. Berlin: Weidmann 1877-1913, Vol. VI, p. 47.

Johann Gottfried Herder

Oldest document of the human race (1774)

- but also put all the mystical interpretations into the words that one wants - do you now have more metaphysics about the concepts than if you had not heard them? Who does not see clearly that with them the darkest curtain fall down! See everything that comes to your mind in response to your questions. no word for world itself? No word for metaphysical things and absurdities themselves! No concept! (I doubt if anyone has it?) What for? what does the big turtle stand on? Moses turns his back on all of this, leaves you with your mouth open, and you still do him the honor of appending all your metaphysics to his simple, flat document! Dear an Aristotle of eternal earth and you really do him no more injustice!

Oldest document of the human race. First volume. In: Herder's entire works. Edited by Bernhard Suphan. Berlin: Weidmann 1877-1913, Vol. VI, p. 206.

Christoph Martin Wieland

The golden mirror (1772)

said Gebal with a laugh.

said Danischmend:

The golden mirror. In: The golden mirror and other political poems. Munich: Winkler 1979, p.314 - online.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Letter to Charlotte von Stein (1782)

He [Lavater] seems to me like a person who explained to me extensively that the earth is not an accurate sphere, but rather imprinted on both poles, proves it most succinctly, and convinced me that he has the latest, most detailed, correct concepts of astronomy and world structure; what would we say if such a man ended: Finally I have to mention the main thing, namely that this world, the shape of which we have shown in detail, rests on the back of a turtle, otherwise it would sink into the abyss.

Letter to Charlotte von Stein, April 6, 1782. Complete works. Letters, diaries and conversations. Edited by H. Birus et al. Frankfurt a. M .: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag 1985 ff. Dept. II, Vol. 2, p. 411.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Tame Xenien (1820)

And so I want once and for all
No beasts in the gods room!
The tiresome elephant trunks
The looped snake-pleasure,
Deep primeval turtle in the swamp of the worlds,
Much king's head on one trunk,
They have to make us desperate
Won't they devour pure east:

The East has long since devoured them:
Kalidas and others have penetrated;
You have with poet dainty
Freed us from priests and grimaces.
I would like to live in India myself,
If only there had been no stone cutters.
What could you want to know more pleasurably!
Sakontala, Nala, you have to kiss them,
And mega-duhta, the cloud messenger,
Who doesn't like to send him to soul mates!

Tame Xenien II. Complete Works. Letters, diaries and conversations. Edited by H. Birus et al. Frankfurt a. M .: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag 1985 ff. Dept. I, Vol. 2., p. 632 f.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Faust II. Classical Walpurgis Night - Rocky Bays of the Aegean Sea (1830)

What we carry on our hands
Should you all be comfortable.
Chelonen's giant shields
If a stern structure shines,
Are gods that we bring;
Must sing high songs.

Complete Works. Letters, diaries and conversations. Edited by H. Birus et al. Frankfurt a. M .: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag 1985 ff. Dept. I, Vol. 7/1., P. 323 (V. 8168-8173).

(In addition :) Thomas Zabka

Faust II - The Classical and the Romantic (1993)

Kerényi points out that the Chelone turtle is a. Katharina Mommsen contradicts this return of the chelon to pre-Greek mythology with the argument that the takeover is. Mommsen refers to Goethe's disparaging remarks against how. Goethe's polemics in the Tame Xenia but is not directed against Indian mythology itself, but against the romantic-myth-historical tracing back of the Hellenic hall of gods to the Indian beasts. in the Faust II the Kabiren are a middle link between the original tortoise Chelone, from which they rise, and that (8197) into which they reach up. Goethe's Xenie, Katharina Mommsen as evidence against citing the Indian origin of the turtle proves to be the best evidence For this very origin. Chelone denotes the Indian reason from which, according to Creuzer, the Kabiren originate. Creuzer interprets these gods in the sense of the originally Indian and from there came to Greece via Egypt, namely the first deity of the Kabiren.3a

Faust II - The Classic and the Romantic. Goethe's. Tübingen: Niemeyer 1993, p. 185 f. (References omitted).

Johann Christoph Adelung

About the German Style (1787)

Properties of the same [allusion or allusion]
§ 65. It goes without saying that the individual case to which one is alluding must be so well known that those for whom one is writing cannot easily mistake it; for if it is not, the allusion loses all effect and becomes a riddle. When one of our recent writers says: God created and the earth was! What does the big turtle stand on? so he presupposes that all his readers are familiar with the Indian cosmogony, which is presupposed a little too much. And then this allusion lacks the proper interest; for the adventurous poetry of the oriental rawness of understanding can have little interest for an enlightened European imagination.

About the German style. New, probably and verb. Berlin: Voß 1787, vol. 1. Berlin: Voß 1787, p. 363 f.

Constantin François Chasseboeuf Volney

The ruins. Chapter 21. Problem of religious contradictions (1791)

[The representatives of different religions put forward their claims to truth. After the controversial lectures of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish scholars of God, opposition also arises to the lecture of the Parsees.]
On the other side there was a great murmur under the flags of the Indian sects; the Braminen protested against the claims of the Jews and Parsees and said:
The Braminen were silent at these words.
But the Braminen insisted not to explain themselves.
He actually put the four Vedams, the eighteen Pouranams, and the five or six Chastrans out of one another; he explained how an incorporeal, infinite, eternal being, after having spent a time without boundaries in contemplation of itself, finally, in order to reveal itself, separated the masculine and feminine forces that were him, and an act of procreation accomplished what the lingam has remained the symbol of; how from this first act three divine powers, Brama, Bichen or Vichenou, and Chib or Chiven emerged, of which the first was intended to be created, the second to be preserved, the third to be destroyed, or to change the forms of the universe.

The ruins. From the French by Herr von Vollney [!] With a preface by Georg Forster. 6. verb. Edition Braunschweig: Vieweg 1822 (first 1792), pp. 132-134.

Mary Wollstonecraft

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)

I do not mean to allude to all the writers who have written on the subject of female manners - it would, in fact, be only beating over the old ground, for they have, in general, written in the same strain; but attacking the boasted prerogative of man - the prerogative that may emphatically be called the iron scepter of tyranny, the original sin of tyrants, I declare against all power built on prejudices, however hoary.

If the submission demanded be founded on justice - there is no appealing to a higher power - for God is justice itself. Let us then, as children of the same parent, if not bastardised by being the younger born, reason together, and learn to submit to the authority of reason - when her voice is distinctly heard. But, if it proved, that this throne of prerogative only rests on a chaotic mass of prejudices, that have no inherent principle of order to keep them together, or on an elephant, tortoise, or even the mighty shoulders of a son of the earth , they may escape, who dare to brave the consequence, without any breach of duty, without sinning against the order of things.

Whilst reason raises man above the brutal herd, and death is big with promises, they alone are subject to blind authority who have no reliance on their own strength. They are free - who will be free!

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Chapter V, Section IV - online.

Salomon Maimon

Attempt at a new logic or theory of thought (1794)

The generality of the concept of conception (that every modification of consciousness is related to something as conception) [,] completely abolishes this [Reinholdian] concept [of conception]. It has roughly the same meaning as the question of Indianswho, by saying to him: the world likes a couple Elephants, and the Elephants on a pouring turtle, in his innocence asked: and what finally the turtle?

Attempting a new logic or theory of thought. With attached letters from Philaletes to Aenesidemus. Berlin: Felisch 1794, p. 320 f.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte

On the concept of science (1794)

It is easy to notice that assuming the possibility of such a scientific doctrine in general, and especially the possibility of its principle, it is always presupposed that there is really a system in human knowledge. If such a system is to be included, it can also be shown, independently of our description of the science of science, that there must be such an absolute first principle.

If there is no such system, only two cases can be thought of. Either there is absolutely nothing immediately certain; our knowledge forms several or an infinite series, in which each sentence is replaced by a higher, and this in turn by a higher, etc. is justified. We build our houses on the ground, this one rests on an elephant, this one on a turtle, this one - who knows what, and so on forever. - Once our knowledge is like that, we certainly cannot change it, but then we also have no fixed knowledge: we have perhaps gone back to a certain link in the series, and apart from this we have found everything firmly ; but who can vouch for us that if we should go even deeper, we will not find the bottom of it and will have to give it up? Our certainty is requested, and we can never be certain of it for the following day.

Or - in the second case - our knowledge consists of finite series, but of several, each series closes in a principle that is not justified by any other, but only by itself; but there are several such principles, which, since they are all based on themselves and absolutely independent of all others, have no connection between themselves, but are completely isolated.

About the concept of science. All works, ed. v. I. H. Fichte. Berlin: de Gruyter 1971, vol. I, p. 52 f. - Fichte probably follows up on Maimon here. See Friedrich Kuntze: The Philosophy of Salomon Maimons. Heidelberg: Winter 1912, p. 352, note 1.

[To Fichte:] Franz Paul by Herbert and Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer

Herbert to Niethammer (1794)

Fichte contributed a great deal to this fatal mood of mine, again an author except for Spiz Nägl. [...] From now on I declare myself to be the most irreconcilable enemy, of all so-called first principles of philosophy, and the one who needs one to be a naïve, who deduces and syllogizes whom paroxism grips him from his basic principle [...] . How much is lost for phillosophy through a great envy of Kant's rum, what is Kant's first basic phrase, criticism of reason [;] if you don't have enough of it, you can't be helped [...].

Herbert to Niethammer, May 6, 1794, quoted by Manfred Frank: "The difficult step into reality". About the development of an early romantic realism. In: Atheneum. Yearbook of the Friedrich Schlegel Society 17 (2007), pp. 13-31, here p. 21.

Riveting hammer to Herbert (1794)

The earth carries an elephant, and the elephant stands on a turtle without telling us what the turtle is lying on; and we either have to satisfy ourselves with such an unsatisfactory answer, or we have to ask further, and in this way the questioning and the answering, and therefore the earth itself, is bottomless; or we must come to see that the earth does not need an elephant or a turtle in order not to fall [...].

Niethammer to Herbert, June 2, 1794, quoted by János Weiss: What does the Reformation of Philosophy mean? Tübingen lectures on Reinhold and the Reinhold School. Frankfurt a. M .: Lang 2009, p. 103. See also Manfred Frank (as above), p. 21.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte

Second introduction to science (1797)

Isn't Kant talking about a thing in itself? What is this thing to him? A noumen as we can read in several passages of his writings. It is the same, namely a mere noumen, with Reinhold and Schulz. But what is a noumen? According to Kant, according to Reinhold, according to Schulz, something that we, according to the laws of thought that can be demonstrated and proven by Kant, are only thought in addition to the phenomenon, and must be thought in addition according to these laws; which therefore only arises through our thinking; however, not through our free thinking, but through a necessary thinking under the presupposition of the ego - and therefore only there is for our thinking, for us thinking beings. And this noumen or thing in itself, why do those interpreters want it any more? This thought of a thing-in-itself is justified by the sensation, and they want the feeling to be justified again by the thought of a thing-in-itself. Your globe rests on the great elephant, and the great elephant - rests on the globe. Your thing in itself, which is a mere thought, should act on the I! Did you forget your first speech again? and is their thing in itself, which was just a mere thought, now something other than a mere thought?

Second introduction to science. All works, ed. v. I. H. Fichte. Berlin: de Gruyter 1971, vol. I, p. 482 f.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte

The Purpose of Man (1800)

I. Do not treat me like a child and do not impose on me palpable absurdities. Only through the principle of reason do I arrive at things outside of myself; how can I, on the other hand, only have arrived at this proposition through them, these things outside of me? Does the earth rest on the great elephant, and the great elephant - again on the earth?

The purpose of man. In: all works, ed. v. I. H. Fichte. Berlin: de Gruyter 1971, vol. II, p. 219.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte

Fr. Nicolai's life and strange opinions (1801)

How does Nicolai begin to take back in the same breath what he admits here? [That the ego is nothing other than the identity of the subject and object] Here too we are sure that no reader guesses what is really going on. Nothing less has happened than this, that Nicolai den actual content this philosophy, in the complete and completed proof of which consisted that very system, for one of the Premises regards this system as an arbitrary premise put forward without any evidence; the building itself for the trowel with which the building was built, the earth for the turtle, by which the earth is carried. Because this is how he can be heard:

write: found oneself. - So that there is no doubt as to how this is to be taken, he adds below: one (namely Nicolai) object to that sentence: my I is not mere intelligence, but reason, sensuality, power of thought, physical strength are part of it, write: belongs to it.
So: the premise of Fichte's idealism, which is based solely on an arbitrary terminology and is not proven by anything, is the sentence: I, or Intelligence, or Reason, sensuality, power of thought, physical power are absolutely identical. - Nicolai opposes this proposition as an immediately certain proposition: Of course, my ego is also intelligence, among other things (because by saying that it isn't nakedness Intelligence is, he says without a doubt, that it is also intelligence); but it still belongs besides the intelligence also, Reason, sensuality, thinking power, physical power. Through this opposition, he cancels that Fichte's premise and, since the whole of transcendental idealism is based entirely on this, at the same time blows it up into the air; because cessante fundamento cessat fundatum. It is to be lamented that Nicolai was not picked up immediately after he had brought this refutation to an end, so that he would have concluded his speculative career in the consciousness of this glorious argument, and that his descendants would like to remember him.

Fr. Nicolai's life and strange opinions. In: all works, ed. v. I. H. Fichte. Berlin: de Gruyter 1971, vol. VIII, p. 56 f.

Friedrich Nicolai

Via the journal The hearing (1796)

[...] so much is certain that even if that firm foundation [the unconditional foundation of Kantian philosophy and its successors] would have been given to us, critical philosophy does not yet seem to have found it. The fundamentally different opinions of various critical philosophers on the most important subjects of philosophy seem to justify the suspicion of the uninitiated that so far not everything in this philosophy according to laws is intended that necessarily exist by yourself; and every now and then it begins to sound: some unconditional, final sentences of the same for their part rested again on something conditionalLike in the pictorial ontology of the Indians the elephant, on which the universe stands so firmly, puts his feet on a snake, of which this ontology does not know what it rests on! Under such circumstances, critical philosophy can no more ask than any other, generally applicable to be, or to become; and in accordance with the nature of the human understanding, like all other philosophies, it will in future be modified more and more differently, so that in time something will take its place differently: just as it has been with all philosophies and systems since the time of Pythagoras has gone.

From: Description of a journey through Germany and Switzerland, in 1781. Eilfter Volume (1796). Quoted from Friedrich Nicolai:. Satires and writings on literature. Edited by Wolfgang Albrecht. Leipzig, Weimar: Kiepenheuer 1987, p. 326 f.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Lectures on the theory of nature (1798)


For the time being, something about the [weakening corpuscles], what becomes of them and the shape of the atoms
For the last one is not said [s].
So one invents a world in order to explain the appearances of another from it.
Indian philosopher. Elephant turtle
So you see you have to dig deeper
One does not have to create worlds at will, but investigate how we get to the idea of ​​matter at all
Restriction of our freedom by means of the external senses.
If one does this with sincerity and loyalty to one's own understanding, one finds oneself compelled to write a repulsive force on matter.
Our intellect submits this substrate to it.
Impenetrability relative. This saves you the empty spaces.
And this resistance only reveals itself to us in the form of filled space.
This is not the first thing we accept can and have to.
If I accept another matter that aligns this through impact, am I wiser then? Not a hair.
Resisting through existence is nonsense.
Is Existentz one too?
Making matter exist.
That was still missing. A matter that makes matter.

Lectures on natural science. Notes and materials on experimental physics. Part I. Ed. d. Academy of Sciences in Göttingen. Göttingen: Wallstein 2007, p. 237.

Friedrich Bouterwek

Idea of ​​an apodictic (1799)

If the truth is to be carried by propositions which are only true because they are based on other and more general propositions; So the philosophy resembles the elephant of Indian mythology, who, with the world on his back, leans on a turtle, but the turtle leans on .... This is where wisdom comes to an end.

Idea of ​​an apodictic. A contribution to human self-understanding and to the decision of the dispute over metaphysics, critical philosophy and skepticism, vol. 1. Halle: Renger 1799, p. 11 f.

Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi

Raising reason to understand through the undertaking of Criticism (1801)

What brings now, I seriously ask you, into those three infinities, the two of receptivity and the one of spontaneity, Finiteness; what fertilizes space and time a priori with number and measure, and transforms them into one pure manifold; what brings pure spontaneity to oscillation, what brings consciousness a priori to consciousness? [...] You have to state this, you have to indicate the possibility of a pure synthesis, with or without one pure very internal discrimination that can be shown, or your whole system does not even have the existence of a soap bubble.

It really doesn't have this one and no other; is utterly and utterly only about and with that twofold, interrelated fraud built by a multiplicity and a unity, which where they are supposed to be - each for itself and independently of the other as an original and first - are neither to be found nor to be encountered, nor in any way really just like that fantasizes, let alone thought can be. Their existence is an artificial pretense through a double glass that casts deceptive shadows into shadows. The completed, executed play with these shadow beings represents in a new picture that old regressus - from the world to an elephant carrying it, and from the elephant to a turtle carrying it; The only difference is that you need one more figure and the turtle twice. For reason, as I have already noticed at the beginning, rests with you on the understanding; the mind on the imagination; the imagination on sensuality; the sensuality then again on the imagination as a faculty of a priori intuitions; this imagination at last - what for? Apparently nothing! She is the true turtle, the absolute reason, the essence in all beings. It produces itself purely a priori from itself; and, as the possibility itself of everything possible (the Producer of Producirenswhich in appearance as a Intervene, apprehend expresses itself) not just what possible, but also what - maybe! - impossible is. Enough, in front you cannot be anything: and what to her is, that's just by just her in her and of you.

To bring reason to understand through the enterprise of criticalism. In: F. H. J .: Works. Edited by Friedrich Roth and Friedrich Köppen. Leipzig: Fleischer 1812-1825, Vol. 3, pp. 114-116.

Wilhelm Traugott jug

On the various methods of philosophizing (1802)

All sciences, with the exception of philosophy, have their own soil on which they can grow freely and carelessly, on what this soil itself rests - whether on an elephant and this again on a turtle and so on; philosophy, on the other hand, is one bottomless Science, d. H. it is not given a foundation, but should create its own for itself and thereby also establish the foundation of the other sciences.

About the various methods of philosophizing and the various systems of philosophy with regard to their general validity. A supplement to the Organon. Meißen: Erbstein 1802, p. V.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Belief and knowledge. Jacobean Philosophy (1802)

In the presentation of the Kantian philosophy it has been shown how Kant, within this sphere, splendidly places the a priori of sensuality in the original identity of unity and diversity, namely in the potency of being immersed in the unity in the multiplicity as a transcendental power of imagination. but the understanding implies that the a priori synthetic unity of sensibility [is raised] into universality and thus this identity enters into relative opposition with sensibility, reason again as the higher potency of the previous relative opposition, but in such a way that this universality and infinity is only formal pure infinity and is fixed as such. Jacobi now transforms this genuinely sensible construction, through which only the bad name fortune remains, but in truth an identity for all of them, into the fact that fortunes are based on one another. 4 Jacobi brings faculties into such beautiful connection, and the fact that something, certainly not the imagination as separate from totality, rests on itself is not only as unphilosophical for Jacobi as the image of the stupid Indians who see the world from a being, that to rest on oneself, to be carried away, but also to be outrageous; And because everyone knows from his youth and from psychology that the imagination is a faculty of fiction, so, according to Jacobi, philosophy tries to persuade man through such an imagination that the whole man is really a fabric without beginning or end, made up of nothing Deception and deception, from delusional faces, from dreams that man has invented and forged a religion and language, etc., as is endlessly quarreled and apostrophized about this in the paperback. In short, Jacobi understands such an imagination as well as a self-generating reason as something arbitrary and subjective, and sensual experience as eternal truth.

Belief and knowledge. Jacobean philosophy. In: Works in 20 vol. Frankfurt a. M .: Suhrkamp 1970, vol. 2, p. 363 f. - online.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Belief and knowledge. Fichtean philosophy (1802)

This idealism [Fichtes] is therefore the true reversal of formal knowledge - but not, as Jacobi said, of the cube of Spinozism; because the cube of Spinoza is not reversible, because it floats in free ether and there is no above nor below, much less any ball or turtle on which it would be based, but it has its calm and its ground in itself, is his own ball and turtle. The random polyhedron of formal knowledge, on the other hand, lies on a strange earth, in which it has its roots and on which it has its support; for the same there is an above and below. Usually formal knowledge is based on manifold empiricism, but from it draws manifold tips of concepts into the ideal atmosphere. Fichte's formal knowledge is a reversal of that; it begins in the atmosphere in which one and the same thing is only found negatively and ideally, and conscious of its ideality, it lowers the negatively existing content with positive signs as reality.

Belief and knowledge. Fichtean philosophy. Works in 20 volumes Frankfurt a. M .: Suhrkamp 1970, Vol. 2, p. 400. - online.

Jens Baggesen

The completed Faust or Romania in Jauer (1808)

Eighth appearance.

HANS WURST descends from the plane tree, picks up Homer's and Virgil's busts, and places them back on their stands.
At least another hour would take
Here your immortality!

Turning to the temple.

All of you muses,
Soon it will be done for you! In the basement, alas!
Judgment is being held over you now;
And your throne falls before evening, Apollo!
Oh! I cannot save poor man; it drives
Also, against my will, myself, the individual,
The general current continued tremendously;
And I still have to form a chorus here
From the ordinary world of writers
Those borne by the mere reading world
The starry sky of genius bears.

He hits the ground with a whip and calls down.

Up what can read and never write!

A broad, arched mass, like an enormous toad, gradually rises up in the middle of the theater. - Hans Wurst calls out to everyone:

Here what can read and what can write!

Several people dressed as writers of the second rank rush out from every corner and step onto the vaulted floor. Hans Wurst ranks them and weaves their arms and legs so artificially that in the end they all together form an enormous elephant. - After he has put them together and on top of one another, he exclaims:

Believe what can write and never read! -

A large balloon sinks down from above and, filled with a heavy spirit, lies on the elephant's back.

I'm silent - you are silent -
He is silent -
We are silent - you are silent -
They are silent.
Woe to me stammering, only in sorrow
Active, discontinued
Literary V a p u l o!
Woe to me among the word-born

Most unfortunate, without strength
Striving, always grumbling,
With wanting good-for-nothing!
Woe to me written elephants!

Though thick-skinned and strong-boned
Made me before he did the craft
Rightly learned, the natural sculptor -
If only he didn't have his trunk at the same time

Given me the transition
To the finer mind,
That they carry so high in the air
That press on me: the nose!

I would rather be the toad:
Paying, space-consuming,
Quite tacit p a s s i v u m,
That toad that carries me too.

The elephant falls apart with a terrible rumble. - From the balloon, which breaks into two hemispheres as a result of the impact, two choirs rush to the right and left onto the stage, facing each other. -

RIGHT CHOIR with clenched fists.
Look at my thick neck, broad shoulders here!
Stiff feet, clenched fists, I stand, a stone god,
Simple, and rough, utterly naked, and big,
Limiting the all in me. My name is P l a s t i k. -
LEFT CHOIR with folded hands.
Like a fluttering flower, on a withering stalk,
I hover, my hands folded, a dying angel;
Breathing and fragrant into space, losing myself infinitely,
And decorating my forehead with a romantic bandage.
Greek sages polished me, alas! Aristarch Athenes
Filed me, even in Homer, smooth and rounded and beautiful,
Put sandals on me; and the poet Roman virgin
Wrapped me more than my foot, ah! and screwed me up completely. -
I felt miserable in both Spain too;
Pathetic, even last in the Germania.
The T a s s o was already plucking with bad diligence
Many a colorful feather from my rump.
C e r v a n t e s tore off my wonderful bandage -
M i l t o n and K l o p s t o c k themselves left me
Hardly four of my hundred wings.
The louts believed with the hotbed manure
To rejuvenate my middle age bloom.
Fire fetched from heaven blew into the stone nose,
Woe is me! GÖ t h e. Fortunately, the students came afterwards
The cheeks pounded and blew, and puffed, pounded and splashed,
Blow from behind and in front, hail me! and blew it out!
Otherwise I might have flown up organically,
Instead of resting frozen in the crystalline rubble below. -
How close, oh pity! I was poor to doom!
It was already starting to get me down to earth here
To tie up, and to take root in the world!
He brought 'a' kind of growth into my death:
I was already green as a tree of life on the Born -
Fortunately a boy came with a magic horn,
And saw me recovered on earth on the ground,
Instead of rotting heavenly in the air;
Tear up the roots delicately and finely,
And said:
Ever since that rescue call, I've been dying
In the mere ether completely. -
O rigid, liquid blessing curse!
Polar tendency!
Hug yourself in loud contradiction
The silent indifference!

They hug each other, and sink on the sinking elephant debris, with the sinking ground.

The perfect Faust or Romania in Jauer. In: Jens Baggesen's Poetic Works in German, Vol. 3. Leipzig: Brockhaus 1836, pp. 241-244

Washington Irving (1809)

The world in which we dwell is a huge, opaque, reflecting, inanimate mass, floating in the vast etherial ocean of infinite space. It has the form of an orange, being an oblate spheroid, curiously flattened at opposite parts, for the insertion of two imaginary poles, which are supposed to penetrate and unite at the center; thus forming an axis on which the mighty orange turns with a regular diurnal revolution. [...]

I am fully aware, that I expose myself to the cavillings of sundry dead philosophers, by adopting the above theory. Some will entrench themselves behind the ancient opinion, that the earth is an extended plain, supported by vast pillars; others, that it rests on the head of a snake, or the back of a huge tortoise; and others, that it is an immense flat pancake, and rests upon whatever it pleases God - formerly a pious Catholic opinion, and sanctioned by a formidable bull, dispatched from the vatican by a most holy and infallible pontiff. [...]

But while briefly noticing long celebrated systems of ancient sages, let me not pass over with neglect, those of other philosophers; which though less universal and renowned, have equal claims to attention, and equal chance for correctness. Thus it is recorded by the Brahmins, in the pages of their inspired Shastah, that the angel Bistnoo transforming himself into a great boar, plunged into the watery abyss, and brought up the earth on his tusks. Then issued from him a mighty tortoise, and a mighty snake; and Bistnoo placed the snake erect upon the back of the tortoise, and he placed the earth upon the head of the snake. [...]

And now, having added several of the most important theories that occur to my recollection, I leave my readers at full liberty to choose among them. They are all the serious speculations of learned men - all differ essentially from each other - and all have the same title to belief. For my part, (as I hate an embarrassment of choice) until the learned have come to an agreement among themselves, I shall content myself with the account handed us down by the good old Moses; in which I do but follow the example of our ingenious neighbors of Connecticut; who at their first settlement proclaimed, that the colony should be governed by the laws of God - until they had time to make better.

A History of New York, from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, Volume 1, Book I, Chap. I, II - Online (Wikisource).

Adam Müller

The elements of statecraft (1809)

The Indians have a fable with which they answer the question of what the globe is based on and how it is kept in equilibrium: a giant carries it; the giant is again carried by an enormous elephant; the elephants a turtle, etc. So, one can say, the credit is borne by the metal money, the metal money by the state constitution, the latter by the laws, etc. A series of forces emerges, one of which supports the other; but it cannot be determined which one will ultimately bear all the rest.

The elements of statecraft. Edited by Jakob Baxa. Jena: Gustav Fischer 1922, vol. II, p. 42 f. (27th lecture).

Adam Müller

Attempts at a new theory of money (1816)

The only form of government that the circulating political doctrines establish is despotism, however much they want to dampen it, by entrusting legislative power and its means, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, to the people, and thus the entire state authority again as subordinate ideal private property to the people. If the people could really constitute themselves as the supreme private owner of state power and thereby themselves, we would only have the old fable: a giant carries the earth, an elephant carries a giant, the elephant a tortoise, etc. would remain indifferent.

Frey is therefore only where there are obligations to change; where several kinds of property at the same time dampen and vouch for one another; where private law is tempered in all places by genuine feudalism.

Attempts at a new theory of money with particular reference to Great Britain. Edited by Helene Lieser. Leipzig: G. Fischer 1922, p. 25 f.

Joseph Gorres

Mythical history of the Asian world (1810)

The ark resting on that rock pico is therefore also shiwalingam; and the lingams into which it is divided, and which have been planted in all parts of the world, are the fathers of the peoples that proceeded from the new ancestor. But Satyaurata came out of the ship, and the command was given to him to repopulate the earth. Then he said, how can I, if I don't want to put my foot on dry earth. Vishnu came down in his third incarnation; he dived down to the middle of the abyss, where the giant Herncaschup