Saturday, April 28, 2012

Kafka and Wittgenstein

Perhaps because they were both brilliant, roughly contemporaneous, German-speaking, central Europeans of Jewish descent it is hard not to see connections between Kafka and Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein's "picture theory" was supposedly inspired by a report he read of a traffic accident in Paris. Kafka wrote a description of a traffic accident in Paris. Coincidence? Well, yes, presumably. Especially since the report Wittgenstein read was from 1914, and concerned a court case, while Kafka's description is from 1911 and describes the accident itself. But the coincidences pile up. Just now when I searched online for details of each case I found the passage I have linked to above, which takes Kafka's accident description as notably filmic, in contrast to his previous writing. And that reminds me of Alfred Nordmann on the Tractatus and its oddly static, decidedly non-filmic, treatment of language and the world, as if time were unreal. 

Then there's "Metamorphosis," which has been written about in relation to Wittgenstein by at least Rebecca Schuman and Stephen Mulhall. Presumably Kafka's story means what it says, so that reading it as a straightforward allegory would be wrong, but in his diaries Kafka uses the image of a cockroach to express both his own self-loathing and the attitude of anti-Semites toward Jewish people, i.e. the former see the latter as (being like) cockroaches. It would be (a little too) obvious to read "Metamorphosis" as being about Antisemitism, and, following Mulhall's suggestion in connection with this, to make a further link to Wittgenstein's beetle in the box. I don't think that Wittgenstein had Antisemitism in mind at all when he wrote about the beetle, but I am interested in exploring the application of his thought-experiment (can I call it that?) to the kind of phenomenon that Sartre describes in Anti-Semite and Jew. I mention Sartre partly because I'd much rather discuss anti-English prejudice (which he mentions) than Antisemitism, which has a history too dark for this kind of playing with ideas. But it's hard to avoid touching on darkness when dealing with this subject, and talk about Limeys or Rosbifs just seems silly.  

Here's Wittgenstein:
Suppose everyone had a box with something in it: we call it a “beetle”. No one can look into anyone else’s box, and everyone says he knows what a beetle is only by looking at his beetle. –Here it would be quite possible for everyone to have something different in his box. One might even imagine such a thing constantly changing. –But suppose the word “beetle” had a use in these people’s language? –If so it would not be used as the name of a thing. The thing in the box has no place in the language-game at all; not even as a something: for the box might even be empty. –No, one can ‘divide through’ by the thing in the box; it cancels out, whatever it is.
That is to say: if we construe the grammar of the expression of sensation on the model of ‘object and designation’ the object drops out of consideration as irrelevant. 
Instead of a box, imagine that we are talking about human bodies, and instead of a beetle, imagine that we are talking about a "soul". Each body's "soul" might be something quite different. Some might change constantly. And some bodies might even be empty, having no soul. But suppose the word "soul" has a use nonetheless? Then it is not used to designate something inside the body (even though, ex hypothesi, "soul" is what we call the thing in the body--presumably calling something something need not involve designating an object, perhaps just as naming a baby or pet is not designating an object). Saying that someone had, or did not have, a soul would then not state a certain, dispassionate kind of fact about that person but would perhaps express an attitude or be a Davidsonian metaphor or something along those lines.

Then what would it mean to say that someone had become a cockroach or beetle? In Kafka's story the inside or soul remains much the same, but the container or body is transformed. I won't interpret this, but it suggests something about people who are regarded as cockroaches, etc. They are treated or thought of or looked at differently than other people, while the dispassionate facts about them are no different from the facts about other people. They still belong to the species homo sapiens, they still bleed when pricked (although that is already starting to shade into a different kind of facts--Shylock is not a mere biologist, which is why the argument from analogy for the existence of other minds seems to work despite also seeming to be an instance of induction from just one case), and so on. Appeal to dispassionate facts won't persuade anyone that a body has a soul attached to it. We cannot shake the box and hear the beetle. This says something, something about facts and imagination and feelings, about the kind of task that Shylock faces in trying to get others to see him as a fellow human being, and about the kind of work that is involved in ethical argument (for instance about the status of animals, or fetuses, or immigrants, or the environment, etc.).

Kafka also suggests a more Sartrean point, that we are what other people see us as being. We are also, Sartre thinks (as I understand him), what we make ourselves through the choices we make. But there is a sense in which we are entirely determined by others. (Perhaps we could say that Sartre believes we are all duck-rabbits, with the duck produced by completely free choices and the rabbit produced completely by forces beyond our control, the views of others. But seeing a duck-rabbit as first a duck and then a rabbit is much easier than seeing yourself as others see you, or seeing someone else as they see themselves. And I imagine Sartre knew this.)

Anyway, as I say, I think it would be a mistake to read too much into the beetle in the box example (although if you want to then see also the entertaining novel Boxer Beetle by Ned Beauman, about a gay Jewish boxer named Roach and fascists who collect beetles). But there is quite a bit already there, not about Antisemitism, but about the relations between mind (or soul) and body, the individual and society, and the subtleties of language. Kafka's story also helps bring these things out, whether he had them in mind or not. 


  1. 1) If the parallels seem overwhelming, it is good to remember that Wittgenstein did read Kafka (egged on by Anscombe), but did not apparently like him at all. Totally characteristically, he then counter-recommended Weininger to Anscombe as someone who wrote how Kafka ought to have written, but did not (Monk, p. 498).

    2) My favourite comparison of Kafka and Wittgenstein by far is Anthony Thorlby's hopelessly obscure "Anti-Mimesis: Kafka and Wittgenstein", in Franz Kuna (ed.), On Kafka: Semi-Centenary Perspectives (London: Elek, 1976). It also includes a discussion of Sartre, but from a completely different vantage point. According to Thorlby, Sartre succeeded in writing a novel that depicts the protagonist's total loss of trust in language, yet did not succeed in using the same language to express his own personal distrust in it, because he experienced the loss of trust as disabling. Whereas Kafka only could write in the first place because he had lost his personal trust in language already, which freed him from fearing the loss of trust to come. Thorlby suggests that Sartre is here analogous with 20th-century philosophy of language in general, while Kafka is analogous with Wittgenstein.

    I remember that this struck me as an exceptionally deep insight when I read the paper as an undergraduate 15 years ago (I went on to discuss it briefly in my master's thesis). Looking at it again now, I'm not sure about its depth, but I still think it is far more interesting than the average "Wittgenstein and X" paper.

    3) I'll have to think some more about your discussion of the beetle in the box. Of course we could drag in the lion as well. If someone had just recently turned into a lion while retaining their former ordinary power of speech, could we understand them?

    1. I think in the end I say nothing of interest about the beetle in the box here, so I wouldn't recommend thinking too much more about it. Mulhall sees a connection with Kafka's beetle, and there is arguably a connection between Kafka's beetle and antisemitism, so I wanted to explore the possibility that Wittgenstein's beetle example might say or show something about antisemitism. But I don't think it does. The closest I got to a new idea, which is probably new to me alone, is the realization that Wittgenstein implies we can call something a "beetle" without designating an object a "beetle." I feel as though there is a lot in this. Not in the sense that there are many conclusions to be drawn, or implications for other issues in philosophy. Just in the sense that the distinction is both rich and subtle, as well as being correct. But my sense of what is subtle or interesting might be off at the moment as a result of grading lots of student papers, not all of which are as rich or subtle as they might be.

  2. Thanks, Tommi. Your first two points (1 and 2) might be related. I read Weininger as being quite indirect and ironical (a view that, as I remember it, Joachim Schulte defends in his essay in the collection Wittgenstein Reads Weininger. If writing that way indicates a mistrust of language, then I can see Weininger being like Wittgenstein (even the Investigations doesn't straightforwardly tell the reader what to think) and unlike Kafka. And I can see, I think, what Thorlby means about Sartre.

    As for the lion, who knows? We don't befriend or reason with lions, so there are some major limits to our understanding of them (although there seem to be some cases of friendship between people and lions). But how could we know the lion spoke unless we understood it to some extent? Your example of a person turning into a lion is like the miracle of a person suddenly growing a lion's head in the Lecture on Ethics. Perhaps this person would speak with the voice of God (and who can say whether we would understand that--however confident some people might be about their abilities to comprehend in such circumstances?) or, like a crazy person, with "the voice of God." Our ability to understand the mentally ill is probably about the same as our ability to understand animals, i.e. incomplete. I think Rupert Read has argued that it's non-existent, but that seems more like a kind of position of faith than something that has to be taken as fact. That is, it could be part of someone's religion that they say that God is beyond our understanding. It is quite a different kind of attitude to say, "Let's wait and see. If God ever speaks, perhaps we will understand." And we might insist that the schizophrenic cannot be understood at all out of respect, compassion, or love for a schizophrenic person. This insistence might reflect a sense of the scale of their separation from us, or a refusal to blame them at all for anything they might say or do. Or we might say it based on experience, which would be a different thing. Or on the basis of some theory about understanding, which would be different again. My own attitude would be the not-very-devout wait and see approach in the case of God or any miracle. With people and animals I think there is always a scale. No life seems completely alien, none completely familiar either. Everyone is capable of surprising us and even of being a mystery, if only in some small way. Whether that's a declaration of faith or the conclusion I've drawn from my experience would be hard to say. I think it's both (but also something of a truism).

  3. I recommend this (forthcoming) paper by Karen Zumhagen-Yekplé: “The Everyday’s Fabulous Beyond: Nonsense, Parable, and the Ethics of the Literary in Kafka and Wittgenstein”

    I wrote her, and she sent it to me.

  4. Thanks, Reshef. That sounds like an interesting paper.

    1. Hi Duncan (long time no see!). And thanks, Reshef. The paper is coming out in the fall in Comparative Literature. I'm happy to send it out to anyone who's interested before it goes into print, though. Karen Zumhagen-Yekplé

  5. Duncan, if you want to read any of my other Kafka/Wittgenstein research (though I don't see why anyone would, voluntarily), I have reams of any rate, I am super tickled that you noticed my work exists, even if you think it's weird (spoiler alert: IT IS). I agree with the commenter above re: Anthony Thorlby, who is a great scholar (though obvs from a long time agol). Henry Sussman has some classic passages on the Tractatus and Kafka in Afterimages of Modernity. But these are all Germanists; work on the K/W connection in Philosophy is pretty much limited to Mulhall as far as I know (and Conant, vaguely). I count as Germanistik in case you were wondering. Sorry this is so incoherent. --Rebecca Schuman

    1. Thanks, Rebecca! I'm afraid I don't yet know your work well enough to judge whether it's weird, but it certainly sounds interesting. And if it's weird in a good way (which it sounds as though it might be, if I can say that without sounding insulting) then so much the better. For anyone interested, here's a useful link.

    2. Thanks again for mentioning my work on your really cool blog! If you ever find yourself with insomnia and want to read it I'd be very interested in knowing what you thought!

    3. I certainly do want to read it, and I will be sure to let you know what I think when I do (although this might not be very soon, depending on how much time I get/make/find to read this summer).

  6. A (very rough) distinction and two questions:

    The distinction:
    Although I'm not sure how to make it precise, I want to suggest a distinction between two ways of putting two authors along side one another, and bringing their works to bear on each other.

    1) We may do that with the intention of discovering something that both are doing. Perhaps, we may discover, they are doing the same thing from different perspectives, and we can learn more about what they are doing if we learn to see that what the one author is doing may look so very different--and actually does look very differnt--in the work of the other author. Here, we are putting their works side by side, and comparring them as equals.

    2) We may use the work of one author, or elements from this work, as a key to unlock the work of the other philosopher. This would not be to say that both are saying the same thing, but to use the work of one author as a comentary on the work of the other--as a mode of reflection on the other's work. Here, we are using the work of one author as a tourchlight, with which to illuminate the work of the other: one is the explanans and the other the explanandum.
    (That the work of some author can be used as such a torchlight might reveal something interesting about it--no doubt. But this sort of discovery is indirect.)

    To what extent do you think that we can say that Wittgenstin and Kafka were after the same thing, and to what extent do you think that most fruitful way of discussing the relation between their works is to read Kafka through Wittgenstein: to use Wittgenstein's work, or elements from his work, as a torchlight with which to illuminate Kafka's?

    Another question:
    When we say of two authors of literature that they are doing the same thing, are we saying the same kind of thing as when we are saying that of two philosophers? And in what sense--if any--can we say that when one of the authors is a philosopher and the other is an author of literature?

  7. Reshef -- I'm not sure how to categorize the following reasons for comparing a philosopher and an author of fiction, but here goes: One set of reasons has to do with cultural studies and the history of ideas. If we see two authors from the same culture whose work shares some major themes, we may find there a 'way in' to some of the central preoccupations of that culture. So, e.g., one can look at Hofmannsthal's 'Lord Chandos Letter' and see that it wasn't just Wittgenstein who wrote about the limits of language in the fin de siècle Viennese culture. Why did that theme so preoccupy them? Were there some prominent works of the time that sparked their interest in this topic? Does this preoccupation show anything of interest about that culture? There's also the thought that if two geniuses approached similar themes via different modes of reflection and expression (e.g., philosophical and literary modes), I might develop a richer appreciation of the topic and for what philosophers had to say about it by examining its expression in the literary context.

  8. Thanks Paul.
    One reason for my interest in such comparisons is an interest in the concept of identity--in particular, the identity of ideas, and identity of message.
    Take these four sentences:
    (1) I’ll order the same dish she's having.
    (2) Wittgenstein and Kafka were after the same thing.
    (3) Jews and Christians worship the same God.
    (4) Most philosophers of mind today have roughly the same conception of Mind Descartes had.

    My instinct is that "the same" means different things in these cases. In other words, we don’t only have different criteria of identity in the different cases, but different KINDS of identity criteria. I'm interested in the differences.

    Another reason for my question here is an interest in the methodology of interpretation. When interpreting a philosopher or a fiction writer, we have several natural points of reference which may inform how we understand the writer. For example: the corpus of all that this writer or philosopher wrote, and the discussions this writer was actively involved in. There are other points of reference we can use, which are different, and more elusive. For example: the author's childhood, the major political events of their time, the interests of other writers of the same generation.
    My sense is that using different kinds of points of reference gives rise to different methods of interpretation. Again, I’m interested in the differences. Here, I’m also interested in questions about possible over-kill of some methods of interpretations: Cases in which our method of interpretation serves to taint our interpretation, and for instance makes us unlawfully read things into a text.
    I think we can even connect this to the point above: different points of reference and different methods of interpretation partly go to characterize different conceptions of the identity of the author’s ideas.

  9. Sorry to have been so slow in responding, but thanks for these comments.

    Reshef, I'm not really inclined at all to say that Wittgenstein and Kafka were after the same thing, although the paper by Karen Zumhagen-Yekplé does an excellent job of making the case that in one piece Kafka may have been up to something interestingly similar to what Wittgenstein was after in some of his work. Even that might be an overstatement of her claim, though, which I think is more that the works are (i.e. can be) mutually illuminating. (It's a very nice paper, much more worth reading than I fear I may have made it sound here.)

    In terms of the torchlight idea, it seems to make more sense to read Kafka in the light of Wittgenstein rather than vice versa, although there is no special reason to do either. I think I just do read people in a kind of Wittgensteinian light whenever that's possible. It's an occupational hazard given my research interests. How fruitful it is varies, of course. In this case I don't think it was fruitful. Although it did provoke some nice comments on this blog, through which I've found out about some work that I have either already read with enjoyment or else am looking forward to reading.

    When we say of two authors of literature that they are doing the same thing, are we saying the same kind of thing as when we are saying that of two philosophers? And in what sense--if any--can we say that when one of the authors is a philosopher and the other is an author of literature?

    This deserves a better answer than I can give it now, but it would seem quite insulting to say of two literary authors that they were doing the same thing. It's less insulting, it seems to me, if someone claims that, say, Wittgenstein and Heidegger were getting at (or trying to get at) the same thing in their work (regardless of whether this claim is true or false). In the case of a philosopher and a poet, I'm not sure. But couldn't one say (again, regardless of the truth of this specific claim), for instance, that Hölderlin was after the same thing as Heidegger? Not in general, perhaps, but in one poem and one essay respectively, or something like that? Poetry and philosophy are not generally the same thing, but if a philosopher ever said that a poem was getting at the same idea or thought that she was trying to get at, then I wouldn't dismiss this as impossible or ridiculous. Perhaps this doesn't answer the question in what sense we can say that two writers are doing the same thing.

    On the other comments, I agree with praymont about the (possible) value of comparison, and with Reshef on the danger of reading things into a text. At least, I agree that there is a danger there, and I want to resist it. It's possible that we don't agree on where to draw the line though. I want to see differences and similarities, and I'll tolerate some dubious similarities if they are sincerely perceived and seem fruitful. Sometimes Stephen Mulhall sees things in works that I'm not sure are there, but a) since I am not sure, how can I say he's wrong?, b) I have no doubt that he is sincere, rather than making things up to impress people, and c) the works in question typically become much more interesting to me when I see them his way. I have no objection to this kind of rich seeing, therefore, even though I can imagine someone insisting that we should see only what is clearly and distinctly perceptible. There is, of course, a danger here that less capable readers than Mulhall will use this as an excuse to make things up or speculate irresponsibly. I don't want to fall into that trap.

  10. with regard to "the same," here is a distinction I find interesting to think about:
    (1) Two things can be the same in the sense that implies that it is meaningful to ask: "The same WHAT?" This is the case, for example, when I ask to have the same dish that someone else is having.
    (2) Two things can be the same in a sense that does not imply that it makes sense to ask of them "the same WHAT?" An example of that may be aesthetic judgments like "This Debussy piece is the same as a Monet painting."
    Perhaps this may also goes for "Hölderlin was after the same thing as Heidegger." - It would depend on the speaker's intentions.

    When people make comparisons between Kafka and Wittgenstein, I often cannot tell if they take themselves to make the first kind of comparison, or the second.
    I am actually also often uncertain about judgments like "Christians and Jews believe in the same God," but that's a matter for a different blog entry.

  11. I think it's the second kind of comparison that people have in mind, although it perhaps confuses things that the distinction seems to be one that could break down at some point. If Debussy is the same as Monet then the similarity will consist, I would imagine, in their wanting to present a certain impression, which is necessarily subjective and imprecise. It might also be a matter of a kind of lightness or insubstantiality, and of Debussy's conjuring images while Monet paints with a kind of rhythm or sweep, and so on. (I'm not sure that's a good description of Monet, but perhaps there is something musical about his painting as there is surely something painterly about Debussy's music.) In other words, we could ask "the same what?" in this case and receive an answer: the same impressionism, the same Frenchness, or whatever.

    I don't mean to deny your distinction. But attempts to sort the first kind of comparison from the second might not be simple. Karen Zumhagen-Yekplé's paper might seem to be of the first kind, while Rebecca Schuman's (which I read this afternoon) seems more of the second. That is, one seems to be saying there is some common content while the other attends more to form (or even spirit). But if the common content is ineffable then we seem to be speaking more metaphorically about "the same" than are people who both want the same dish. I'm simplifying other people's very sophisticated ideas probably far too much, but I think what it comes down to is that people who say that Kafka and Wittgenstein are the same in any way all mean that they are the same in your second sense.

    One thing that makes me hesitate though is your suggestion that it depends on the speaker's intentions. I was imagining Heidegger himself saying that he was after the same thing as Hölderlin (or vice versa). In that case he could get Hölderlin wrong, but he couldn't be wrong about what he is after. And if he can't be wrong then surely whether he's wrong can't depend on his intentions (or on anything else). But I feel a bit foggy about this.

  12. You seem to be indicating a problem about self-person authority, and possesstion of our own words. I'm not sure however: are you indicating a general problem, or one that is specific to the distinction I suggested?

  13. I wasn't sure that I had understood your second kind of use of "the same" given your assertion that it would depend on the speaker's intentions. But reading your comment again now I think you meant simply that if someone says Heidegger and Hölderlin were after the same thing then they might mean "the same" in the first or the second sense.

  14. About "X being the same as Y". Do people actually say this sort of thing at all?

    We recently had a discussion here on Wittgenstein's suggestion that the word "beautiful" has received excessive attention in aesthetics compared to the unimportant and uninteresting role it has in ordinary language. Maybe there is a similar point to be made about "X being the same as Y". For instance, Google finds zero hits for both "kafka is the same as" and "wittgenstein is the same as". The formulation "X was after the same thing as Y" has also been mentioned. The same(!) goes for this as well. Without a corpus, it's hard to either appeal to usage or try to refute such appeals.

    I'm all for philosophical discussions of the differences between types of identity, but I'm not sure whether there is such a discussion to be had here. Instead of a discussion of different senses of "the same as", there should perhaps be a discussion of the differences between "the same as", "reminiscent of", "similar to", "evocative of", "analogous with", "comparable to", and so on.

    (1) Two things can be the same in the sense that implies that it is meaningful to ask: "The same WHAT?" This is the case, for example, when I ask to have the same dish that someone else is having. (2) Two things can be the same in a sense that does not imply that it makes sense to ask of them "the same WHAT?" An example of that may be aesthetic judgments like "This Debussy piece is the same as a Monet painting."

    Cf. Wittgenstein (Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief, p. 32):

    "I often found that certain themes of Brahms were extremely Kellerian. This was extraordinarily striking. You might say: 'What would be the interest of such an utterance?' The interest partly lay in that they lived at the same time. If I had said he was Shakespearean or Miltonian, this might have had no interest or an entirely different one. If I had constantly wanted to say: 'This is Shakespearean' of a certain theme, this would have had little or no interest. It wouldn't connext up with anything. 'This word ("Shakespearean") forces itself on me.' Did I have a certain scene in mind? If I say this theme of Brahms is extremely Kellerian, the interest this has is first that these two lived at the same time. Also that you can say the same sort of things of both of them - the culture of the time in which they lived. If I say this, this comes to an objective interest. The interest might be that my words suggest a hidden connection. E.g. Here you actually have a case different from that of faces. With faces you can generally soon find something which makes you say: 'Yes that's what made them so similar.' Whereas I couldn't say now what it is that made Brahms similar to Keller. Nevertheless, I find that utterance of mine interesting. It derives its main interest from the fact that these two lived [at the same time]."

    Here we have Wittgenstein's own answer to what was "the same" about Brahms and Keller: "that these two lived at the same time. Also that you can say the same sort of things of both of them." This is an answer to "The same WHAT?" But at the same time, it is quite clear that Brahms and Keller were the same, to him, in precisely the "This Debussy piece is the same as a Monet painting" sense. So I'm not sure whether (1) and (2) are exclusive of each other.

  15. Thanks Tommy! As always, I so envy you for having so much Wittgenstein at your fingertips and am so grateful that you are willing share it.
    To the point. – More needs to be said to support the possibility of a use of the expression “the same” can be at the same time of the first and of the second kind. On the face of it, it seems to involve a contradiction.

    Might we alternatively say that there are two different possible uses of “Brahms is Kellerian,” and likewise of ‘Monet is like Debussy,’ or Wittgenstein is analogous to Kafka,” or ‘Heidegger is reminiscent of Hölderlin”? (Part of the suggestion is that each of the expression you mentioned itself splits into two—allows for two distinct uses.)

    I mean, the words do not decide what they mean; rather, that is determined in use. (I take it to be a Wittgensteinian point.) And as Duncan pointed out, it is by no means always obvious—even to the speaker—what use they made of a certain expression. The fact of such unclarities is fuel for so much philosophy!

    Here is another relevant passage from BB (p. 160), which I think is relevant. Among other things, I take it, Wittgenstein has here in mind two uses of expressions like ‘the particular way in which so and so acts’:

    “[…] suppose I speak of the way in which A enters the room, I may say "I have noticed the way in which A enters the room", and on being asked "What is it?", I may answer "He always sticks his head into the room before coming in". Here I'm referring to a definite feature, and I could say that B had the same way, or that A no longer had it. Consider on the other hand the statement "I've now been observing the way A sits and smokes". I want to draw him like this. In this case I needn't be ready to give any description of a particular feature of his attitude […]”

  16. These are some very interesting passages from Wittgenstein, although I suppose the one Tommi quotes is a secondhand report of what he said, and so less reliable. It provides food for thought about Wittgenstein on faces and family resemblance, suggesting the idea that, while we might not be ready to give any description of a particular feature of a face that strikes us as like another (a feature, that is, that would account for the perceived similarity), nevertheless we might soon be able to find some common feature that we can identify. Still, I think there is a distinction that Reshef and Wittgenstein are getting at here, namely that between, on the one hand, two things that are the same in some easily specifiable way (e.g. both these people enter a room in the same way in the sense that each first puts his head in and then enters) and, on the other, between two things that just strike you as being the same without your being able to say what they have in common. In fact Wittgenstein suggests four cases, I think:

    1. two things are the same in some readily identifiable way (e.g. people who enter rooms with just the head and then with the whole body)
    2. two things are the same in no readily identifiable way, but some common feature can be identified after further thought (e.g. two faces that look alike)
    3. two things are the same in no readily identifiable way, and the similarity is significant (or has objective interest) because it suggests a hidden connection (e.g. Brahms and Keller)
    4. two things are (said to be) the same in no readily identifiable way and this has no significance because the person who claims to see the similarity can say no more about it, and there is no reason (such as a historical connection) to believe that there is any hidden connection (e.g. Brahms and Shakespeare)

    Tommi's point about actual usage of "the same" and like expressions suggests to me that we should look at actual comparisons that have been made, in this case between Kafka and Wittgenstein. I would suggest that Rebecca Schuman's paper is making a type 3 comparison, while Karen Zumhagen-Yekplé is perhaps closer to making a type 2 comparison.

    But this way of putting things might distort as much as it clarifies.