In relation to the below sentence (philosophical text ca. 1860):

Die feste Basis, auf welcher der Geist ursprünglich steht, darf nicht so bleiben, daß der Geist fortan sich daran lehne, darauf nach dem Gesetze der Schwere niedergedrückt laste, ...

I have problems with understanding the two words niedergedrückt laste when combined.

  • niedergedrückt = (de)pressed (down)
  • lasten = weigh down
  • niedergedrückt laste = ???
  • 5
    @Helge You're asking a lot of questions tagged meaning-in-context missing to provide the full context. Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 16:24
  • 2
    @πάνταῥεῖ full context? Ein ganzer Satz wäre schon mal ein Fortschritt.
    – Olafant
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 13:17
  • @Olafant Ja, das sehe ich auch so :) Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 15:31

4 Answers 4


There is an inserted sub clause that describes one part of an enumeration.

The original sentence is:

...daß der Geist fortan sich daran lehne, darauf laste


so that the mind leans towards it and weigh down on it (the base)

"darauf laste" is further explained by the inserted clause:

nach dem Gesetze der Schwere niedergedrückt

translated to:

pressed down by the force of gravity.

So to put it together:

so that the mind leans towards it (the base) and weighs down on it as it (the mind) is pressed down by the force of gravity


Lasten here is used like (to) rest, but with a negative connotation of heaviness and inertia, stressing the inability to move on its own, as in for example:

[Der Körper] lastete schwer und regungslos auf ihren Armen.

My understanding of the text, as far as missing context allows: an originally stable foundation, probably of convictons and beliefs, must be shaken to keep the mind curious and alive.

The stable foundation upon which the mind originally stands may not remain so, that the mind continues to lean on it, pressed down on it following the law of gravity.

It's not really the foundation that's being weighed down and that we care for. It's the mind which is weighed down by inertia.


Lasten - exert some force (of gravity or figurative). Laste is Konjunktiv 1. Niedergedrückt lasten - pressed down by the force of gravity. So, you are right.


The solid base, on which the mind stands initially, mustn't remain in such a way that the mind leans on it from then on, resting on it, forced down according to the law of gravity, ...

I added some more commas than conventionally necessary in English to make the sentence structure more apparent. Many of the words probably have to be translated in a different way (e.g. Geist as spirit or mind or rationality etc.), but without the context it is impossible to know what meaning the author intended.

You should always give a source and provide a longer citation for such cases, especially with older texts that aren't as straightforward to understand even for native speakers.

  • 1
    Please note that you cannot comment on the question without answering it. Such meta comments must be posted as "commentaries" to the question directly below it, not as "answers". You may choose to revise your answer in that you actually answer what niedergedrueckt laste haette bedeuten koennen, in a general context.
    – Dan
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 12:00

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