[OPE-L:2157] Fw: Re: echt Deutsch

From: Michael J Williams (michael@williamsmj.screaming.net)
Date: Fri Jan 14 2000 - 15:06:18 EST

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Some of you may be interested to comment on the following query (second
message, From Warren Schmaus) that came up on the HOPOS list.

If there is anything of substance that arises, I will cross post it to HOPOS

----- Original Message -----
From: Daniel Cohnitz
To: HOPOS-L@listserv.nd.edu
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2000 1:50 PM
Subject: Re: echt Deutsch

Hi Warren,

I think the English translation is really misleading. "Bedingen" is
obviously used in an other way than "to condition". "A bedingt B" is "A ->
B". So, we have in both sentences the same direction of the conditional. The
connotation of "bedingen" is sometimes to emphasize a necessary condition
("Wenn wir das Bankgebaeude in die Luft jagen wolle, bedingt das natuerlich,
dass irgendjemand den Sprengstoff besorgt.") but the direction of the
conditional is in both sentences the same. "Bestimmen" is probably really
close to your "to determine". I see no poblems with necessary and sufficient
conditions in the German quote. I would understand in both cases that there
is a causal relation.



Daniel Cohnitz

Philosophisches Institut
Universitaetsstr. 1
40225 Duesseldorf


Department of Philosophy
-Philosophy of Science-
University of Tartu (Estonia)
mail: cohnitz@ut.ee
[A] little philosophy turns one away from religion,
and more philosophy makes one a pain in the neck.
John Perry
----- Original Message -----
From: Warren Schmaus
To: HOPOS-L@listserv.nd.edu
Sent: Donnerstag, 13. Januar 2000 16:42
Subject: echt Deutsch

Would someone whose German is better than mine please help me with

I've been invited to write an encyclopedia article on social and economic
determinism, I assume because of my work on Durkheim. I hadn't looked at
Marx seriously for some time. I was surprised to see him saying in the
famous Preface to the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy:

The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of
social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men
that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines
their consciousness.

I couldn't believe that the Great Man would slide from necessary conditions
in one sentence to sufficient conditions in the next, so I checked the
German (www.mlwerke.de etc)., which has the verbs "bedingt" in the first and
"bestimmt" in the second sentence. I checked a few dictionaries, and I
found that "bedingen" has the sense of _stipulating_ conditions, as in a
contract, while "bestimmen" means determine in the sense of decide or
ascertain rather than cause. In short, the German seems to be in the
language of negotiation, while the English translation seems to be in the
language of causal explanation.

Of course, one could go too far with this. After all, the English word
"cause" has a meaning that derives from presenting a case at a court of law.
So my question is, what is the connotation for Germans of the words
"bestimmen" and "bedingen"? Are they used to express causal relationships,
like "bewirken"?

Warren Schmaus

Dr Michael Williams
Economics and Social Sciences
De Montfort University
Milton Keynes
fax: 0870 133 1147
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