Das Unwahre aber ist unbegreiflich

After a break got to finish the second chapter of the first part (Bestimmtheit – Qualität) of the first book (Die Lehre vom Sein) of Science of Logic this morning. So this is Das Dasein chapter (from Sein – Das Dasein – Das Fürsichsein trio). By far the most interesting discussion so far, I think, is not the usually brought up Being-Nothing-Becoming (Sein-Nichts-Werden) from the first chapter (Sein) but finitude and infinitude sections.

The second chapter – in di Giovanni’s new SL translation, it is “Existence” but more familiar in the old version as “Determinate Being” – ends with a short “Transition” paragraph (and two Remarks). There is some German weirdness that I cannot quite understand here – so here it is…

If you read di Giovanni’s translation carefully, you’ll see that there is an interesting problem of translation (I can only guess that this is a deliberate choice):

Ideality can be called the quality of the infinite; but it is essentially the
process of becoming, and hence a transition – like the transition of becoming (Werden) into existence (Dasein). We must now explicate this transition. This immanent turning back, as the sublating of finitude (als Aufheben der Endlichkeit) – that is, of finitude as such and equally of the negative finitude that only stands opposite to it, is only negative finitude – is self-reference, being. Since there is negation in this being, the latter is existence; but, further, since the negation is essentially negation of the negation, self-referring negation, it is the existence that
carries the name of being-for-itself.

The bolded part has “negative finitude” (twice) where the German has the term “infinitude” (once) – but it seems that di Giovanni corrects Hegel in suggesting his meant finitude since negated finitude is infinitude, so that which stands against finitude should be negative finitude (not negative infinitude).

Der Ubergang
Die Idealität kann die Qualität der Unendlichkeit genannt werden; aber sie ist wesentlich der Prozeß des Werdens und damit ein Übergang, wie des Werdens in Dasein, der nun anzugeben ist. Als Aufheben der Endlichkeit, d. i. der Endlichkeit als solcher und ebensosehr der ihr nur gegenüberstehenden, nur negativen Unendlichkeit ist diese Rückkehr in sichBeziehung auf sich selbst, Sein. Da in diesem Sein Negation ist, ist es Dasein, aber da sie ferner wesentlich Negation der Negation, die sich auf sich beziehende Negation ist, ist sie das Dasein, welches Fürsichsein genannt wird.

However, there seems to be no adjective + noun construction in German – so there is neither “negative finitude” nor “negative infinitude” – in the  German text we have der ihr nur gegenüberstehenden, nur negativen or if we take one clause out der ihr nur negativen = “ihr” is dative of “sie” and relates to “der Endlichkeit” – so “to it only opposite, only negative, infinitude” sounds like a good version.

Here is A.V. Miller’s translation:


Ideality can be called the quality of infinity; but it is essentially the process of becoming, and hence a transition – like that of becoming in determinate being – which is now to be indicated. As a sublating of finitude, that is, finitude as such, and equally of the infinitude which is merely its opposite, merely negative, this return into self is self-relation, being. As this being contains negation it is determinate, but as this negation further is essentially negation of the negation, the self-related negation, it is that determinate being which is called being-for-itself.

Miller’s translation takes (again, it seems to me, correctly and better than di Giovanni) this phrase and breaks it down this way = und ebensosehr [der ihr nur gegenüberstehenden, nur negativen] Unendlichkeit. That is, “and equally of (only standing opposite it, only negative) infinitude” – but I leave this up to those who are better at German than me…


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