Don’t equate materials with living life. Strike a balance.

What's wrong in this sentence? I wrote it as part of an answer on quora. But when seeing today, I think I wrote two contradicting sentences. Because in first part, I wrote not to equate or compare, but in second part, I asked to balance. But without equating, how do you balance?

I am not sure, I dont have good knowledge on grammatical terms. Not sure of which tag to apply too :)

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    It sounds almost as jarring as 'What's the difference between a raven and a writing desk?' I might use 'Don’t think that having many possessions is the same as living a fulfilled life.' – Edwin Ashworth Jan 21 '17 at 17:14
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    There is absolutely nothing wrong with it in grammatical terms. Stylistically, "living life" may be awkward: it is actually ambiguous between "the process of living your life" and "life, that I am describing as 'living'". If you mean the latter, it is certainly infelicitous. But your comments suggest that it is the logical consistency that concerns you, and in my view that is off-topic for this site. – Colin Fine Jan 21 '17 at 17:23
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    equate and compare are two different things. You certainly can balance between A and B without equating them.That is not the flaw in your statement. Using materials when you mean possessions (at least that's what I think you mean) is - and so is the phrase living life. – michael.hor257k Jan 21 '17 at 18:17
  • It rubs me wrong having the 'materials/living life' comparison. I'd like it more like 'acquiring/living' or 'possessions / life" or ''acquiring possessions / living life' . Also materials and materialism are a few steps away... materials evokes something closer to a basic need for me .. just my 2cents – Tom22 Jan 21 '17 at 19:57
  • @EdwinAshworth - Put that way I’d have to say, “there’s an ’o’ in one and an ’h’ in t’other.” – Jim Jan 21 '17 at 22:17

But without equating, how do you balance?

That's very deep!

But you aren't saying "don't equate" in general, you're saying "don't equate these two specific things". So even if balancing requires equating, that's ok. You haven't prohibited all types of equating anyways.

But really, I would just say that language isn't that logical. We're humans, not computers, and our communication is messy. Your sentences don't have a terrible contradiction hiding in them as far as I can tell


Don’t equate materials with living life. Strike a balance.

The main issues with this sentence are in trying to define a relationship between materials and living life.

Firstly, material as a noun is defined as a physical substance that things can be made from: note the highlighted section. material as an adjective is defined as relating to physical objects or money rather than emotions or the spiritual world: note again the highlighted section. You could use this in an adjectival sense by using material things.

Secondly, and in my opinion less importantly, materials is an object and living life is an activity. The relationship that you want to define is between the acquisition and possession of material things and living life.

I don't think that there is a contradiction between equate and balance. Equate is defined as considering one thing to be the same as or equal to another thing. The meaning of equate in the first clause is not about making two things equal, it's about considering them to be the same: thinking that the acquisition of material things is the same as living life. To expand the concept in order to make it perfectly clear:

Don't consider the aquisition of material things and living life to be the same: you need to strike a balance between these two.

It's up to you how you produce a nice compact aphorism from this. Here are some suggestions, each of which deals with the issues that I have raised in different ways:

Don't equate material things with living life: strike the balance.
Don't equate possessions with living life: strike the balance.
Don't equate possession with living life: strike the balance.
Don't equate acquisition with living life: strike the balance.

Note the use of possession and acquisition as noun that describe an activity: this makes it clearer that you are equating two activities, rather than an object and an activity. Personally, I think that the first is good enough and the most evocative, as it has the nice overtone relating to emotions or the spiritual world.

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