I don't have an etymological dictionary available, but verstehen comes,
I think, from "vor" & stehen, stand before. This can mean many things,
from immediately available as discussed in Hegel to something that is
separate, an object before me as distinct from myself. The distinction
Hegel makes between apprehend (from Lat. ad-, to, and prehendere,
seize) and comprehend (prehend with [senses, mind]), both of which are
translated as "verstehen".
On 13-Jul-05, at 12:58 PM, Ana Marjanovic-Shane wrote:
> Can English "understand" be comapred to German "verstehen"? Does
> "verstehen" also have a root in "stand in the midst of"?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Wolff-Michael Roth [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Wednesday, July 13, 2005 07:08 PM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Re: [xmca] sense and meaning
> recently someone posted a definition of understanding in relation to
> meaning. Some time ago, I looked it up (for my math paper the meaning
> of meaning):
> Understanding comes from "under" and "stand", standing in the midst of
> (not "under"). When we "understand", we literally stand IN THE MIDST OF
> something, the activity, the familiar world.
> In this respect, an older sense of "meaning" also helps--its root comes
> from *men, to think, and one of its obsolete uses was to denote "to
> speak of, tell of, have in mind, and to remember" (OED online). That
> is, meaning takes us to talk of, remember. What do we talk of,
> remember? Familiar situations, of HAVING BEEN IN THE MIDST OF. . .
> Merleau-Ponty says that the function of the body in remembering is, in
> part, the deployment of a panorama experienced in the past, the
> re-deployment of the attitude taken in past situations. . . which takes
> us back to having been in the midst, and remembering having been there.
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