n Acta Germanica : German Studies in Africa - Jean Paul : Die Poetik des "Zettelkasten" : Assoziationspsychologie und die Ästhetik eines phantastischen Realismus

Volume 28, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1273



This paper analyses Jean Paul's famous "Zettelkastenprinzip" - which was in fact a collection of notebooks that contain extracts of his extensive reading, accompanied by a register of keywords - as the organising principle of his aesthetic perception of the world. This "system" of notes does not rely so much on an hierarchical order of concepts descending from an transcendental, abstract category to the specific phenomenological one, as on the psychological principle of association. According to this theory, which was developed by Hartley, Young, Locke and Hume and popularised by Jean Paul's philosophical teacher, Ernst Platner, in Germany new phenomena are not merely subordinated to the existing system but are appended to the existing web of associations, thereby making possible new associations and reassembling existing lines of association. The "Zettelkasten" therefore presents an open-ended structure which could be compared to Deleuze's concept of the rhizome and nomad-thought as opposed to the arboreal structure of royal science. Jean Paul's style is characterised by a cascade of metaphors which are joined by the laws of similarity, opposition or contiguity. Its aesthetic effects are mobility, speed and the surprise attack.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error