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I have a Hegelian sentence pointing out to the fact knowledge and its object could not be different than each other. But the sentence is too long and complicated, and I cannot understand which one is the subordinate one and which one is not. Can you please help me with this?

That what has been said, namely that the consideration of knowledge is not different from the consideration of the nature of its object, must hold good without limitation is self-evident in this material especially, or better in it alone.

Furthermore, I cannot understand the expression of "holding good with" and the last part "better in it alone."

  • You're not alone. English writing like this is meant to be translated back into German, not read. It works in German, because German has the grammar for it, but it's just barely understandable in English. To answer your question, There are several subordinate clauses, stacked at the beginning of the sentence, bracketed like this: [That [what...[that...its object]] must hold.. limitation] is self-evident... I would add that this sentence is not true in English, because it is demonstrably not self-evident, at least in this sentence. – John Lawler May 15 '15 at 15:49
  • Definitely! Let's see if it will work in my own language. Thanks a bunch! – Reactor4 May 15 '15 at 16:13
  • @John: I don't believe it works in German. My German teacher in college (a native German speaker) told me that he never understood Kant until he read him in English translation. – Peter Shor May 15 '15 at 16:55
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    @John Words like ‘clear’, ‘obvious’, and ‘self-evident’ mean something very different to philosophers, more or less equivalent to what normal people would call ‘obscure’, ‘obfuscated’, ‘incomprehensible’, and ‘utter nonsense’. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 15 '15 at 16:56
  • We used to call this kind of style "PhD German" when I was studying for my own language exams; it's too easy to make fun of. – John Lawler May 15 '15 at 16:56
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[Subject That what has been said, namely that the consideration of knowledge is not different from the consideration of the nature of its object, must hold good without limitation ] is [Predicate-Adj self-evident in this material especially, or better in it alone ].

Subject = that [S [Subject what has been said, namely that the consideration of knowledge is not different from the consideration of the nature of its object, ] [Predicate must hold good without limitation ] ]

Predicate-Adj = [Predicate-Adj self-evident in this material especially ], or [Predicate-Adj better in it alone ]

  • Would you put better in the Predicate-Adj? I’d put it outside the clause entirely (unless I’m misreading what it’s meant to say, which is always a very present possibility when dealing with Hegel). – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 15 '15 at 16:58
  • I have no idea what it means to say. Why don't you give us your parse as a separate answer? – Greg Lee May 15 '15 at 17:02
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    I read it as better meaning here ‘rather’, as a kind of hedge word: “especially in this material, or, even more precisely, only in this material” (whatever that material may be). I agree with everything else in your answer, though, so a separate answer would mostly just be a repetition of yours. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 15 '15 at 17:04
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It may help if the sentence is divided in two:

'It has been said that the consideration of knowledge is not different from the consideration of the nature of its object. Self-evidently this must hold good without limitation, from this material especially...'

'hold good' (cf. 'hold true') means 'show itself to be good logic'.

'better in this material alone' is I think a phrase that can be clarified with punctuation, e.g.:

'better in this material especially, or, better in [this material] alone.'

Not knowing what the 'material' was, though, I could be wrong.

  • You have misread the original: better does not apply to especially at all. I read it as "X is evident in this material especially, or (more precisely) evident in this material alone." – TimLymington May 15 '15 at 19:06

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