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There's a sentence about the philosopher Kant - "sa primauté exclusivement philosophique interdisait une popularité générale et tapageuse".

Can anybody give me an English-sounding translation?


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"His renown which was limited to the domain of philosophy did not allow  for a sort of  noisy (raucus?) and populist following."

I am sure that can be improved upon but it might be a marker...(I am not familiar with Kant and so  don't have a good feel for the subject)


I'm not very good at making sophisticated sentences but I can explain the meaning of this one so you can reformulate in appropriate English.

"Primauté" means "to be the best" "first rank" "number one" more in the sens of being the best at something than the first.

Here is my version, feel free to rephrase or choose the word you prefer for the pieces between [].

"his [n°1 status] only in philosophy  forbade any [rowdy/raucous/noisy] and [general/absolute/total] fame"

"foremost " is a nice word and "station" is another word for "rank" .

I wonder if "this "tapageuse"  word has any sense of "disrepectful" " and openly critical ?

I think with a semi historical  discussion you might get away with more old fashioned l language...

The fact that he accorded exclusive importance to philosophy prevented him from gaining popularity and being much-talked about./  being all the rage.

Tha fact that philosophy for him took precedence over anything else  didn't allow him to be well known and much-talked about./ largely considered as thought provoking.

 Your translation of primauté is quite different to mine, Vedas.

You understand it as "priority accorded"

I am sure you are right....but I see that Sandra also took it the same way as me and she is ,like you a native French speaker.

Are both senses possible?

Well I might be wrong actually but both could be possible

I was probably mislead by the expression Donner la primauté à une idée

(it could be understood as "sa primauté à lui était la philosophie exclusivement")

if only we could have more context it would help.

"His achievement/ supremacy/ which was earned  in the philosophical field only..."

Thanks for all that. Vedas maybe has got it. Here's what I have now. If anyone sees where I might improve it feel free.

In fact the last line is overly literal.

"But when Germany became a great power it needed a bronze hero to symbolize Germany’s superiority over Europe and the rest of the world. Goethe became a god ... no other German could hold the position. Neither the Prussian Frederick, who was repugnant to the Germans of the south, nor Luther, in a country where half of the population were still Catholic, nor Kant, the fact that he accorded exclusive importance to philosophy prevented him from gaining popularity. Goethe was thus imposed as Zeus on Olympus and one could no longer draw any shadow on his portrait."

(il ne fut plus permis de poser sur son portrait la moindre touche d'ombre.)

I am still not quite sure which version is the more likely  for "primauté "  although I think you may be right to go with Vedas'  suggestion .

 I think perhaps "popular acclaim" might be a useful expression to capture " une popularité générale et tapageuse"  

"his first rank position in philosophy only" is the more likely version I think.

I apologize if I have misled you too.

Yes "popular acclaim" sounds good

I see. George, thanks for your efforts. I've basically used your contributions. It was written about 1930, by a man aged about 80, which may account for some of the difficulty.


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