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[...] instead of facts we have perspectives, none privileged over the others as truer or more nearly in accord with things as they are, although not for that reason all equal.
Source: Leggett, B.J. Early Stevens: The Nietzschean Intertext. Quoted on Wikipedia.

What is this construction?

It doesn't make sense to me. I would like a syntactical analysis of this sentence, especially after “none”.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Instead of facts we have perspectives, none privileged over the others as truer or more nearly in accord with things as they are, although not for that reason all equal.

Lets start to look at it in small bits...

Instead of facts we have perspectives

Ok, so we have something. And what we have are not facts (things that are true) but instead what we have are perspectives (ways to look at things).

none privileged over the others as truer or more nearly in accord with things as they are

None privileged means that none of those things we have (perspectives) is better than another one. Better how? Well, better in the sense that they are more true (truer) than another. Or, better because they are closer to being (in accord with) the way that things are (in reality) - or simply said, because they appear to be more like the real world.

although not for that reason all equal

But wait! We should not think they are all equal (in merit) just because (for that reason) none of them is better!

So, the whole sentence comes to something like this:

We have ways of looking at things, not facts.
Of these ways of looking at things, there is not a single one that is better.
Not a single one is better based on being more true.
Not a single one is better because it looks more true.
But even though not a single one is better than the others, that does not mean they are all equal.

Are they equal or not? We cannot tell from this sentence! The only thing we are told in this sentence is that what we are told does not mean that they are equal.

Maybe they are equal - but for different reasons. Maybe they are not equal - and the given reasons do not make them so.

All the author want to tell us is that we should not draw the conclusion that they are equal just because we cannot tell which one is more true or closer to reality.

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2  
I like the breakdown but I think your "betterness" section falls short... I'd go with something more like "We can't say that one perspective is truer or closer to reality than any other perspective, but that does not mean that all perspectives are equal." –  Hellion Jun 4 at 15:52
    
@oerkelens - I like the analysis until your final point. I believe the intent is that they ARE all equal, but not because none are truer nor more representative of reality. –  MrWonderful Jun 4 at 23:04
    
@MrWonderful - The two reasons given would normally lead one to think that they are equal. The use of although not indicates we should not follow that intuition. "None has privilege, but not [all are] equal" seems the only logical interpretation. –  oerkelens Jun 5 at 5:58
    
@oerkelens - Agreed. That is why that interpretation does not make sense. He gives a reason supporting equivalence, then cites that reason for their not being equal? It is a confusing and awkward structure, to say the least. –  MrWonderful Jun 5 at 12:51
    
@MrWonderful: No, he states that the mentioned fact do not constitute a reason for them being equal. He does not say they are a reason for them not being equal. That is not the same thing. –  oerkelens Jun 5 at 12:58

To complement oerkelens's answer, here's the syntactic analysis of the passage:

Instead of facts we have perspectives, none privileged over the others as truer or more nearly in accord with things as they are, although not for that reason all equal.

This passage can be broken into the following sentences:

  1. Instead of facts we have perspectives
  2. none privileged over the others as truer or more nearly in accord with things as they are
  3. although not for that reason all equal

Here's a simplified syntactic analysis after reordering the first sentence:

we (subject) / have (verb) / perspectives (direct object) / instead of facts (adverbial complement)

In the second and third sentences, the verb "to be" has been elided. Here's a simplified syntactic analysis after making the verb "to be" explicit:

none (subject) / are (copular verb) / privileged (attribute) / over the others (adverbial complement) / as truer or more nearly in accord with things as they are (adverbial complement)

The clause "as truer or more nearly in accord with things as they are" deserves further analysis as an example of conjuction reduction. This clause can be expanded as:

as truer as they are or as more nearly in accord with things as they are

The syntactic analysis of the final sentence can be made clearer, firstly, by adding punctuation:

although not, for that reason, all equal.

reordering:

although not all equal for that reason.

and adding the elided verb "to be":

although not all are equal for that reason.

After these transformations, here's the syntactic analysis of the final sentence:

although (conjunction) / not all (subject) / are (copular verb)/ equal (attribute) / for that reason (adverbial complement)

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+1 for the overall breakdown, but I don't think "as they are" got reduced away from "as truer". –  Hellion Jun 4 at 18:08
    
But your final phrase analysis is contradictory to that of @oerkelens. You say they are equal and oerkelens says not equal. –  MrWonderful Jun 5 at 12:50
    
@MrWonderful, I read the last sentence as oerkelens does. I don't think the last sentence affirms "all are equal". It says that although they can't be distinguished, one should not considered them equal. Your comment has convinced me that the elision in the last sentence goes further than what I initially indicated. I will update my answer accordingly. –  Nico Jun 5 at 13:13
    
@MrWonderful, I've just updated the answer. –  Nico Jun 5 at 14:08

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