I have the following sentence:

A callous system generates nothing but a misanthrope.

Which word would be better in this context - "produces", "generates" or "develops"?

  • Put some efforts...tell us what do you think and why? What's the confusion? Or else, this gets closed! – Maulik V Dec 7 '17 at 7:56
  • However, my choice would be brings! – Maulik V Dec 7 '17 at 7:57
  • 1
    Any of those verb choices work and could be interesting, so which one is better is entirely contextual or subjective. I'd say the larger problem with your sentence is the singular "a misanthrope." Unless you want to imply that your system kills off the entire population, except for a single misanthrope, you'd want to use the plural: "nothing but misanthropes." – joiedevivre Dec 7 '17 at 8:40

I believe it depends on whether you wish to emphasize “callous system” or “misanthrope.”

If you wish to emphasize “callous system,” then you could use “produce,” since systems are generally understood to be mechanical and formal in structure, and “production” typically relates to mechanical and formal processes or systems, e.g. in the production of material goods in a factory.

On the other hand, suppose you want to emphasize “misanthrope.” Now your focus has shifted away from a formal, abstract system, and towards the human actors whom it affects, and in whom it “generates,” that is, “gives birth to,” the misanthrope as a certain human actor with distinct misanthropic sentiments. “Generate” is better here because it more accurately describes the creation of something new through an organic process. It refers not merely to “production” of material, artifical things, but also to uniquely human and living things. For the same reason, the creation of the world and all life is written in the Bible as “Genesis,” and a span of familial relations over time is called “generations,” and inherited traits of life are “genes” or “genetic code,” and a species belongs to a larger grouping called a “genus,” and a brain disorder is “neurogenic,” not “neuroproductive.”

“Develop” is not wrong to use here, but it’s not as good or as accurate as “generate,” for the reasons described above. “Develop” implies that the thing which is developing already exists in a fundamental way, whereas “generate” implies that things are being newly created. If we mean to say that the “system” creates misnathropes that did not exist before, we should therefore use “generate.”

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