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Musil's Socratic Discourse in «Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften»

A Comparative Study of Ulrich and Socrates


Daniel J. Brooks

This study asserts that a philosophical affinity exists between Socrates and Ulrich, the «man without qualities» of Musil's novel. Both figures are characterized by their negativity and their opposition to institutionalized values, and both are considered dangerous to the state. In exploring this relationship, conceptual parallels emerge in both Kierkegaard's and Nietzsche's depictions of the Socratic character. These parallels help to define Ulrich's function in Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, particularly in relation to Musil's understanding of truth and moral value in the world.
Contents: This study of Musil's novel is unique in that the figure of Socrates is proposed as a model for Ulrich, the «man without qualities.»