In the attached and below deciphered text, I have problems with interpreting one single word, marked with XXX. Any suggestions?:

Sie — und noch mehr Andere — werden vielleicht finden, dass die Abhandlung zu viel XXX Ontologie oder Metaphysik enthalte, was allerdings nicht nach dem Geschmacke jetziger Zeit ist. Allein man wird mir einräumen, ...

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  • 2
    No perfect and convincing word comes to my mind. Just two cautious guesses with no claim to definitive accuracy. (1) "spinöse", adj. (=spitzfindig, schwierig). In this reading, "sp" would overlay and replace a preexisting letter (maybe an "O" as in Ontologie). (2) "Kinese", n. The starting letter does look a lot like a capital "K" to me. If you have other "K"s in the letter, maybe try and compare them.
    – marquinho
    Oct 22, 2021 at 13:42
  • (the frequency of "spinös" since 1800: dwds.de/r/plot/…)
    – marquinho
    Oct 22, 2021 at 13:51
  • @Marquinho, Thank you, once again, Marquinho. I think "spinöse" makes good sense, both "on the merits" and based upon a visual interpretation. - By the way, you might find my email address in my profile. Helge
    – Helge
    Oct 22, 2021 at 17:15
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    I’m voting to close this question because it is just a service request. There is nothing general to be learned here, and no one with a similar request might find his answer here. Those questions just don't fit well to the side, while many users have fun, trying to help solving them. Oct 22, 2021 at 20:54
  • I think the word before is not "viel". It looks like "seine" but the agreement is wrong.
    – AlDante
    Jan 1, 2022 at 10:05

2 Answers 2


(I'm making my old comment into an answer for the sake of visibility.)

The word most likely reads "spinöse" (adj., syn. "schwierige, spitzfindige"), yielding the phrase

zu viel spinöse Ontologie oder Metaphysik

i.e., in context:

[You might find that there is] too much abstruse/difficult/hair-splitting ontology or metaphysics [for today's taste in the treatise.]

The beginning of the word – the sign(s) coming before "-in-" – is hardest to decipher. The sign(s) display some of the hallmarks of each of the following capital letters in Kurrentschrift: O, Q, K or R. However, none of these (at least in their usual forms) is a perfect fit.

Rather than a single letter, what we have here is a capital "O" overlaid with, and in fact overwritten by, the group "sp". Subtracting the "O" (compare the one in "Ontologie") leaves the letters "sp" and yields "spinöse".

The phaenomenon is easily explained: the writer corrected his first version

(1) zu viel O[ntologie]


(2) zu viel spinöse Ontologie

that is, he added in the adjective.

It is my understanding that OP was asking about a "philosophy related letter written during the 19th century", as in his other questions. The adj. "spinös" was uncommon, though demonstrably in use, in the 19th century, according to this frequency analysis in the DWDS.

  • 1
    Very plausibly the correct answer, especially if you have a look at the other handwritten texts posted by the OP.
    – Philipp
    Jan 12, 2022 at 19:45


Consider the answer by marquinho, as it fits better with the age of the other handwritten documents posted by the OP.

Original answer:

From the context it should be the abbreviation Quines. and thus would refer to Quine's meta-ontology.



Since a German speaker would pronounce that name Kine or Kinä I guess the K below the Qu was just an honest spelling mistake.

I see a Q below the K, also the ink is thicker there, indicating a quick correction

However, that would place the handwritten text well after 1934, when Quine wrote his first essay on this topic. If this is the case I think my answer is correct.

  • 2
    "that would place the handwritten text well after 1934": My understanding is that OP was asking about a letter by a late-19th-century philosophy (metaphysics) professor (d. 1897), in this as in the other cases. This rules out Quine. – As an aside, this sample looks like a pretty typical 19th century Kurrentschrift to me (might be subjective, though); a style that would have been all but extinct by then ("well after 1934").
    – marquinho
    Jan 12, 2022 at 18:52
  • Very good argument!
    – Philipp
    Jan 12, 2022 at 19:43
  • Thank you – and thanks for the nice mention in your edit!
    – marquinho
    Jan 13, 2022 at 11:53

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