I’m writing about Heidegger’s use of the word Machenschaft and I would like to try to explain this word correctly because I chose to keep it in German. In my language it was translated as Maquinação, something like machination (or Umtriebe, according to the Google translator), and one of my teachers said this translation takes off the real meaning.

I know that machen is to do, but I’m having trouble with the second part of the word and the understanding of the complete word.


2 Answers 2


The translation with machination is pretty good. The backtranslation to Umtriebe isn't that good, just like your teacher said. The difference is the planning.

Machenschaft follows a long planning. It's a "grand" scheme.

Umtriebe is without plan or very short sighted planning.

So, if your 16-year-old child is going to parties every night or to clubs or subcultures, you don't like, you can call it Umtriebe, but as it isn't planned you can't use Machenschaft.

On the other hand, the doings of the Mafia are not the Godfather's Umtriebe but his Machenschaft.


I would like to explain the word as Heiddegers antisemitism, the word meaning more “manipulation and trixing and fixing”, in other words the negative sterotypical view of urban jews. This puts Heiddeger near the nazi critcism of international liberal capitalism, and Adorno said that the antisemitism was actually due to a sort of “too close for comfort psychology”, in other words the living from hand to mouth one day at the time reminded the German christians of their predicament during the 1930’s.

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