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In relation to the below philosophical text from ca. 1862:

"Die zurückgelegten Stufen sind dem Geiste wie seine Natur geworden, in die immer herabzusteigen, um erst daraus zu sich selbst zu kommen, des Geistes wahre Bestimmung ist, nicht naturlos, nur äußerlich anschauend, darüber zu schweben",

I do wonder if there is a word lacking in the bold text, i.e. would "in die er immer herabzusteigen" give more sense? Furthermore, I do wonder whether "darüber" is referrring back to "Die zurückgelegten Stufen"?

4 Answers 4

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There is a sub- clause inserted within the clause that makes you wonder:

um erst daraus zu sich selbst zu kommen

If we leave that one out it might be clearer:

Die zurückgelegten Stufen sind dem Geiste wie seine Natur geworden, in die immer herabzusteigen des Geistes wahre Bestimmung ist

To make it even clearer lets remove the poetical word order in the second part of the sentence:

Des Geistes wahre Bestimmung ist, in die [Natur] immer herabzusteigen

Regarding your second question: For me the "darüber" seems to refers back to "die zurückgelegten Stufen", others suggest it might refer to "Natur": I am not a philosopher, I can not answer this for sure...

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  • ... in seine Natur herabzusteigen ... ist des Geistes wahre Bestimmung (nicht in die Stufen)
    – Olafant
    Sep 4, 2019 at 15:00
  • Du hast natürlich recht... ich habe es korrigiert. Danke
    – Tode
    Sep 4, 2019 at 15:05
  • Are you sure that 'the "darüber" refers back to "die zurückgelegten Stufen"'? I'd assume "darüber" refers to "Natur". The text seems to be about the classic contrast between geist (mind) and nature .
    – user6495
    Sep 4, 2019 at 15:15
  • No, I am not sure...
    – Tode
    Sep 4, 2019 at 15:24
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Nothing is missing. This shorter sentence should show this:

... blabla Stufen blabla Natur blabla. Des Geistes wahre Bestimmung ist, in diese immer herabzusteigen.

One can however also construct a variant that has a full sub-clause that requires a subject:

Des Geistes wahre Bestimmung ist, dass er in diese immer herabsteigt.

(Sollte es nicht hinab sein? Egal.)

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  • Your shortened sentencces don't make any sense, as you have chopped off "Natur" which is referred to by the relative clause.
    – tofro
    Sep 4, 2019 at 15:20
  • @tofro, they are lacking context, but they are complete sentences. I replaced die with diese to achieve this.
    – Carsten S
    Sep 4, 2019 at 15:53
  • But diese in the original senteces refers to Natur - which you have removed. Now your relative pronouns refer to Bestimmung, which is entirely different, and changes the meaning - to nothing.
    – tofro
    Sep 4, 2019 at 16:05
  • @tofro I have added something outside of the sentence so that diese can refer to it.
    – Carsten S
    Sep 4, 2019 at 17:13
  • I very much like this shortened version of the text. Sep 5, 2019 at 14:47
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... Natur geworden, in die immer herabzusteigen, ... des Geistes wahre Bestimmung ist

in etwas herabsteigen is a direction

In die Natur immer herabzusteigen ist des Geistes wahre Bestimmung.

It's the spirit's true purpose to climb down to nature.

... herabzusteigen, um erst daraus zu sich selbst zu kommen, ...

Aus der/seiner Natur zu sich selbst zu kommen, ist der Zweck des Herabsteigens.

zu sich (selbst) kommen -> to come to oneself

To come to mind instead of spirit, so to say.

[ist] des Geistes wahre Bestimmung ..., nicht ...

Es ist nicht des Geistes wahre Bestimmung,

It's not spirit's true purpose

... naturlos, nur äußerlich anschauend, darüber zu schweben.

to hover over nature observing it's surface without having a nature itself.

Zusammengefasst:

Des Geistes wahre Bestimmung ist, in seine Natur herabzusteigen und nicht darüber zu schweben. Von Platon (Sokrates) bis Kant ist es der Geist, der über der Natur steht (oder schwebt) und diese nur äußerlich anschauend erkennen kann. (Kritik der reinen Vernunft) Der Autor des Zitats (wer immer das ist) widerspricht dem. Auch Nietzsche kritisiert das sehr scharf.

Summarized:

The true purpose of the mind is to descend into its nature and not to hover over it. From Plato (Socrates) to Kant, it is the mind (spirit) that stands (or hovers) above nature and looks at it from outside. (Critique of Pure Reason) The author of the quote (whoever that is) contradicts that. Nietzsche also criticizes it very sharply.

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Having considered all the remarks made, the correct translation seems to be:

The steps taken have become for the spirit as its [own] nature. It is the true destiny of the spirit to always descend those steps, in order via this to come to/reach itself, [it is] not [the true destiny of the spirit] natureless, only observing from the outside to hover over the steps taken.

[The steps taken refers to the philosophical development. The text deals with the need of today's philosopher to make himself acquainted with previous philosophical systems.]

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  • 2
    Please edit your question instead of answering it.
    – Janka
    Sep 4, 2019 at 20:58
  • 1
    @Janka: a self-answer should not be an issue here.
    – Takkat
    Sep 5, 2019 at 13:33
  • @Takkat, if this answer was not by the OP, would you think that it answers the question?
    – Carsten S
    Sep 5, 2019 at 15:16
  • @CarstenS: you should then tell the OP what you expect to be a good answer. The issue I have here is that someone voted to delete this self-answer without telling anybody what was wrong with it.
    – Takkat
    Sep 5, 2019 at 16:42

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