I'm expecting some grammatical analysis of the bold phrase "having to deal with other men", and then the explanation of its meaning. Thanks in advance.

Lest we become misologists, he replied: no worse thing can happen to a man than this. For as there are misanthropists or haters of men, there are also misologists or haters of ideas, and both spring from the same cause, which is ignorance of the world. Misanthropy arises out of the too great confidence of inexperience;—you trust a man and think him altogether true and sound and faithful, and then in a little while he turns out to be false and knavish; and then another and another, and when this has happened several times to a man, especially when it happens among those whom he deems to be his own most trusted and familiar friends, and he has often quarrelled with them, he at last hates all men, and believes that no one has any good in him at all. You must have observed this trait of character?

I have.

And is not the feeling discreditable? Is it not obvious that such an one having to deal with other men, was clearly without any experience of human nature; for experience would have taught him the true state of the case, that few are the good and few the evil, and that the great majority are in the interval between them.

-- Plato's Phaedo 89

1 Answer 1


It's a participle clause.

Is it not obvious that [such an one having to deal with other men], was clearly without any experience of human nature; ...

You can understand the phrase "such an one having to deal with other men" as a man who has to deal with other men (as mentioned in previous sentences).

Participles can combine with other words into clause-like structures, e.g.,

Who's that tall man sitting in the corner?

When being used to define or identify nouns, we often use participles the same way as we use relative clause, e.g.,

I watched the match because I know some of the people playing. (= ... I know some of the people who play.)
Anyone touching that wire will get a shock. (= Anyone who touches ...)

  • I can't figure out what "such an one" means. Seems like a typo to me, since the word "one" shouldn't be preceded by "an", but I can't figure out what it's supposed to say. Any ideas?
    – godel9
    Jan 1, 2014 at 5:48
  • @godel9 I think we can treat this translation of ancient text as poetic. One related example I've seen around here (EL&U) is many a man: english.stackexchange.com/questions/25555/…. It sounds odd, but I think it's quite understandable. Jan 1, 2014 at 5:53
  • @godel9 I'm sorry that I missed this part since the word "one" shouldn't be preceded by "an" you mentioned the first time I read your comment. I agree. "an" one looks really strange. Maybe it's a typo. Maybe the translator wanted it to sound close to anyone. I really don't know. Jan 1, 2014 at 7:38
  • @DamkerngT.: An one is archaic. The translation is probably old. Oh, and you have setting in your answer where I would expect sitting?
    – Cerberus
    Jan 15, 2014 at 16:10

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