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Source

In the 1940's, a psychologist named Abraham Maslow challenged old ideas of psychology with a revolutionary claim. He claimed that all humans are inherently good. Sure, it doesn't seem like that crazy of an idea, but it was for his time. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of human psychology, such as Freud did, Maslow focused more on the positive. He focused on the potential of each person.

So my questions are:

  1. I guess in the above context "that crazy of an idea" refers to the idea that says “Man is a wolf to man”. I wonder if I am right?

  2. I can't understand in the above context "his" refers to whom.

  3. I don't know what is the difference between "that crazy of an idea" and "that crazy idea".

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  • "That crazy of an idea" is an extremely colloquial usage. It could not be better calculated to make the user sound like an utter dolt. Never use this construction in any context in which you wish to appear literate. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Sep 2 '16 at 8:21
  • Hey! I don't sound like that much of an utter dolt! – stangdon Sep 2 '16 at 13:06
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Actually no.

"it doesn't seem like that crazy of an idea"

refers to the idea that 'all humans are inherently good'.

But in that sentence, the 'it' refers to the idea that 'all humans are inherently good', and not the word 'idea'.

And 'his' refers to Abraham Maslow's.

Sure, it doesn't seem like that crazy of an idea, but it was for Maslow's time.

This means that the idea was considered 'crazy' during the lifetime of Maslow, but not necessarily now (or earlier).

You had the third doubt because you mistook the reference of the word 'idea' as Maslow's idea, in the sentence "Sure, it doesn't seem like that crazy of an idea, but it was for his time.".

As mentioned above, in that sentence, his idea is referred by the word 'it'.

The phrase "..that crazy of an idea" talks about his idea (Maslow's) is not a very crazy idea, when compared to all the general ideas that people have.

This is very hard to explain, but let's assume that there is a huge pile of ideas. In that pile, there are good ideas, bad ideas, crazy ideas and all the ideas you can think of.

Now, Maslow had an idea, which was that all humans are inherently good. This idea was not a crazy idea, at his time of existence. In the sentence, 'it' is Maslow's idea and the word 'idea' is the huge pile of ideas. So, when compared to the crazy ideas in that pile, this idea was not all that crazy.

Note: This is a little hard to follow, but feel free to ask via comments if you need a little more clarification.

Edit:

Example:

"His work was not that bad of a musical".

This means that the work done by the subject, which happens to be a musical is not that bad, in general.

This can be rewritten as: "His musical is not that bad."

The extension is a simple usage in English.

Other example:

"He isn't that bad of a man."

Which simply implies that he is not a bad man.

To your question #3 - "I don't know what is the difference between "that crazy of an idea" and "that crazy idea", there is no actual difference. This is just a usage in English.

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  • thanks for answers. I learned many things. But I need some simple examples to understand better about the meaning of "it doesn't seem like that crazy of an idea". – AR AM Sep 2 '16 at 8:06
  • @ARAM, edits have been made. Hope it helps. – Varun Nair Sep 2 '16 at 8:16
  • thanks for your examples. now I can understand the meaning of the passage. – AR AM Sep 2 '16 at 8:45
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    I disagree with this part: "This means that the idea was not all that crazy during the lifetime of Maslow, but not necessarily now (or earlier)." I believe it is the exact reverse. NOW it is not a crazy idea, but it WAS for Maslow's time. "Sure, it doesn't seem like that crazy of an idea" is talking to the present reader. "...but it was for his time" counterpoints the present reader's point of view with the norm for Maslow's time. – John Burger Sep 2 '16 at 9:27
  • Actually yes. I misread the sentence. Thank you for catching that obvious mistake. – Varun Nair Sep 2 '16 at 9:30
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To your first part: "that crazy of an idea" relates to the sentence just before it - Maslow's claim that "all humans are inherently good". The two sentences after the quote support this by mentioning positive aspects and potential.

Your quote happens at the start of the linked lesson and there's no mention of wolves in the immediate context, so it is unlikely that "that crazy of an idea" refers to the idea that says "Man is a wolf to man".

To your second part, the paragraph opens by talking about Maslow, and continues by considering some of his (Maslow's) ideas. So the word his refers to Maslow.

To your third part, you can drop the word "of" - it's just a peculiarity of some regional variations of spoken English. The phrase (with or without "of") simply says that the idea wasn't so crazy (to the presenter's audience).

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"That crazy of an idea" is North American. In British English, it would be "that crazy an idea." It means "such a crazy idea" (which is usually a better way to phrase it).

"That crazy idea" means something completely different: "that idea (which, by the way, is crazy)".

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  • Even in North American English, "that crazy of an idea" sounds a bit too casual even for informal published writing, to me. – Mark Foskey Sep 2 '16 at 20:48

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