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I’m reading L’être et l’evénement by Alain Badiou (in a Spanish translation, Spanish is my mother tongue) and find the next sentence.

La primera de estas fórmulas declara que «un vacío, un pleno y un lugar, incluso siendo, no lo son hasta el punto de depender en cuanto al ser»

it is difficult even in Spanish, so i check the english translation

The first of these formulas declares that ‘the same being (étant) pertains to a void, to fullness, and to place, but the same being (étant) does not belong to them when they are considered from the standpoint of being (être)’.

but the English translation is no so similar to the Spanish one as i expected. So I want to check the original French

La première de ces formules déclare que « même étant sont un vide, un plein et un lieu, mais non pas même étant de relever d’eux quant à l’être »

Can somebody help me with indications on the better way to understand this. I’m not looking for a translation, but a comment about the actual sense in the original French sentence.

the second paragraph

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  • Il me semble être plus une question de la philosophie, plutôt que du Français, non ? De plus, ça serait difficile de fournir une interprétation sans contexte, ni titre. Jun 18 at 13:50
  • What is the book where this original texte is taken? The sentence is full of errors; is it taken from the original work or from a copy? Why not provide more context (there is no problem in adding a long paragraph to the question); terms need to be made sufficiently clear.
    – LPH
    Jun 18 at 14:26
  • it’s L’être et l’évenement by Alain Badiou
    – Teusdu
    Jun 18 at 14:29
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    @DerekAllums Thank you. i know it seams my question it’s not about French, and in some sense it isn’t, but it is not a philosophy question either. I’m not asking for a philosophical account, it happens that the spanish and the english translations are very different, so i’m questioning the structure and sense of the original french one.
    – Teusdu
    Jun 18 at 14:48
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  • The first of these formulas declares that ‘the same being (étant) pertains to a void, to fullness, and to place, but the same being (étant) does not belong to them when they are considered from the standpoint of being (être)’.

  • La première de ces formules — attribuée il est vrai par Aristote aux « partisans du vide» qu’il se propose de réfuter — déclare que « même étant (property A, simply "(A)") sont un vide, un plein et un lieu, mais non pas même étant de relever d’eux quant à l’être».

The English translation of the first part is faithful enough to the French text; the verb "pertains" is not as specific, as the verb "être" can be taken in French to convey "the idea of belonging to a class" in this context; it follows that a strict translation can be "void, fullness, and place exist as one given unique sort". But what is implied in the explanation, gives a different picture.

  • l’énoncé d’Aristote désigne l’identité à la situation et du plein (d’un multiple effectif) et du vide (du non-présenté).

This means that "être" (same as (A)) is taken as conveying strict equality (=, a=b, a is b, which entails that, as well, "b is a"), in other words the identity relation; therefore, "situation=plein=vide". In reality, there is here a crude approximation: what we are dealing with is not the identity relation but an equivalence relation, which is the next best thing after the equality relation. It follows that situation≣plein≣vide; this equivalence is not defined in the book, but it must be taken as defined by the property saying that the three concepts satisfy all the conditions for belonging to the class of what exists¹; in other words they must satisfy "being" according to the requirement for belonging to the class or (A).

¹The whole reasoning follows the lines of a mathematical reasoning from set theory, which appears ideal, but which from the standpoint of formal mathematics has no foundation and cannot be called mathematical. In other words there is no mathematical definition of existence, void, and place in this text (These ideas belong to philosophy only).

The explanation goes on as follows.

  • Mais il désigne aussi leur non-identité dès lors que c’est d’une différence selon l’être qu’on affecte les trois noms, le vide, le plein et le lieu.

So, what we have is an apparent contradiction; what is now being asserted is "situation≢ plein,vide, and plein≢ vide" (≢ is read "non equivalent); this implies of course situation≠plein,vide, and plein≠vide, which is non equality or in other words non identity, and that is what the text uses. Notice that, however, this obtains when "c’est d’une différence selon l’être qu’on affecte les trois noms, le vide, le plein et le lieu", and this condition corresponds exactly to "mais non pas même étant de relever d’eux quant à l’être"; "selon l'être" can be taken either as the noun or the nominalized verb, but means really "element" (according to the element), and this is just as saying "relever d'eux", which means "in themselves", as opposed to "with respect to the property they have in common and that puts them in the class ("l’étant-en-totalité" which is mentioned later in the explanation). "l'être" in "selon l'être" is a reference to "a being" not in the light of the collecting equivalence for the class, in other terms "the way (A) of being", but instead according to what differences in the class distinguish elements from one another. We find a confirmation of this understanding at the end of the consideration of formula 1, expressed in two different ways.

  • "Dans ces conditions, le vide serait l’être comme non-être — ou imprésentation —, le plein, l’être comme être — la consistance —, le lieu, l’être comme limite-non-étante de son être — borne du multiple par l’un".

  • ce qui de l’être-en-tant-qu’être est prononçable par ces trois termes n’est pas identique, puisque du côté du lieu on a l’un, la loi du compte, du côté du plein le multiple tel qu’il est compté pour un, et du côté du vide le sans-un, l’imprésenté

Simplifying the first, we get "le vide serait l’être comme non-être, le plein, l’être comme être , le lieu, l’être comme limite-non-étante de son être". It can be seen that "le vide", that is, "l’être comme non-être" cannot be part of "le plein" since "le plein" is "l’être comme être"; there are therefore two sorts of "être", the first existing according to (A), the second according to the three elements.

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  • thank you so much!
    – Teusdu
    Jun 18 at 22:33
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It's not surprising that both of the translators struggled and came up with different interpretations. The structure of the quoted sentence is, to say the least, very obscure.

même étant sont un vide, un plein et un lieu, mais non pas même étant de relever d’eux quant à l’être

Here is my attempt to translate it in Spanish, preserving the obscurity ;-) :

Aun siendo son un vacío, un lleno y un lugar, pero ni siquiera siendo de depender de ellos en cuanto al ser.

The key is likely in words used a different way than the usual ones (at least même étant), but I fail to identify how.

Edit:

Thanks to Peter Shor, it seems the original Aristotle text is Physics, Livre IV. Chapitre 8, § 1.:

ὅταν δὲ στερηθῇ, κενόν, ὡς τὸ αὐτὸ μὲν ὂν κενὸν καὶ πλῆρες καὶ τόπον, τὸ δ' εἶναι αὐτοῖς οὐ ταὐτὸ ὄν.

Its translation by Jules Barthélemy Saint-Hilaire is crystal clear:

Donc, on suppose que le vide, le plein et l’espace sont au fond la même chose, et qu’il n’y a entr’eux qu’une simple différence de manière d’être.

Even DeepL provides much more grammatical and understandable versions than the one in Badiou's book when given the ancient Greek text:

comme étant à la fois pleins et vides, et pleins et pleins, et comme n'étant en eux-mêmes pas les mêmes.

as being both full and empty, and full and full, but being itself is not the same.

como si estuviera lleno y vacío, y lleno y lleno, y como si en sí mismo no fuera lo mismo.

Here is one way to interpret Badou's text :

  1. [même étant] sont [un vide, un plein et un lieu]

Un (lieu) vide, un (lieu) plein et un (ce) lieu, c'est la même chose, la même situation

  1. [mais non pas] [même étant] [de relever d’eux] [quant à l’être]

mais ils ne le sont pas quand on se les représente mentalement.

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  • 2
    The original Aristotle is possibly Physics, Livre IV. Chapitre 8, § 1. I have found what may be a different French translation of this sentence, which is much more comprehensible: "Donc, on suppose que le vide, le plein et l'espace sont au fond la même chose, et qu'il n'y a entr'eux qu'une simple différence de manière d'être." But as far as I can tell, the English translation of this book contains nothing resembling this sentence, so I'm confused. Jun 18 at 18:14
  • @PeterShor That's a great step forward. Même étant would then mean "étant même", i.e identiques.
    – jlliagre
    Jun 18 at 19:25
  • Now, I'm wondering where Alain Badiou got his incomprehensible translation, since to me, it seems relatively far from the original Greek and much closer to the comprehensible French translation I found. Did he use some Latin translation? Jun 18 at 19:57
  • @PeterShor Who knows? The text you came up with is clarity itself whereas that Badiou text really reads like nonsense, as do the Spanish and English translations. My take on that: Thus, one assumes that emptiness, fullness and space are substantively the same, and there is merely a simple difference in their manner of being.
    – Lambie
    Jun 18 at 20:21
  • @PeterShor I was inclined to say Badiou took it from a (very) old french translation but I when search for the sentence on google, only Badiou shows up... so maybe he even misquoted the translation he used.
    – XouDo
    Jun 18 at 20:41

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