0

I think I somehow misread this sentence precisely.

This text is from the book "The Creation of Patriarchy" By Gerda Lerner:

I began with the conviction, shared by most feminist thinkers, that patriarchy as a system is historical: it has a beginning in history. If that is so, it can be ended by historical process. If patriarchy were "natural," that is, based on biological determinism, then to change it would mean to change nature. One might argue that changing nature is precisely what civilization has done, but that so far most of the benefits of that domination over nature which men call "progress" has accrued to the male of the species. Why and how this happened are historical questions, regardless of how one explains the causes of female subordination. My own hypothesis on the causes and origins of women's subordination will be more fully discussed in Chapters One and Two.

Does "so far" means "up to this time?" here?
What is the meaning and the grammatical role of "that" here? Is it Conjunction? or pronoun?

1
  • Does "so far" mean "up to this time" here? 

There is a small difference.  The phrase "so far" implies continuity -- things are likely to stay however they have been so far.  Phrases like "until now" and "up to this time" imply discontinuity -- however things were, they are likely to change.  The clause in question states that progress has predominantly benefited males in the past, and it implies that it might do so in the future. 

 

  • What is the meaning and the grammatical role of "that" here?  Is it a conjunction or a pronoun? 

If the only choices are conjunction and pronoun, then it's a conjunction.  The traditional label for this use of "that" is subordinating conjunction.  It's certainly not a pronoun.  Another option is to simply call it a subordinator

In that sentence, there are two clauses marked by the subordinator "that":

changing nature is precisely what civilization has done 
 
so far most of the benefits of that domination over nature which men call "progress" has accrued to the male of the species 

Both of these clauses could stand independently as sentences on their own.  We can identify all the constituents of these clauses -- the subjects, the verbs, the complements, the adjuncts.  There aren't any missing parts.  There is no role left over for a pronoun to play. 

The subordinator "that" allows these complete clauses to fill the kinds of roles that nouns typically do.  The main clause needs a direct object, and these two subordinated clauses fill that role. 

The structure of the main clause is this:

One could argue {one thing} but [also] {another thing}. 

Here, we have two noun-like things joined by a coordinating conjunction.  This coordination is the direct object.  In the original sentence, the noun-like things are clauses introduced by "that":

One could argue {that something happened} but {that it wasn't fair}.

I could argue that the subordinators above don't have any meaning, but that they have a clear grammatical role.  Whether we call them by a traditional label like subordinating conjunction or we invent a description like substantivating preposition, we have to agree that they turn a complete independent clause into a noun-like reference, and that they play no role inside the clauses that they mark. 

 

All that being said, the word "that" can be used as a pronoun in a subordinate clause.  One significant difference is that, when it is a pronoun, we can find the role that it plays inside the clause. Another difference is that we should be able to find what it references.

One example that demonstrates this is the relative clause. 

Here, we have two pronouns, the relative "that" and the demonstrative "this". The "this" refers to the content of the prior paragraph. The "that" refers back to the word "example".  Both pronouns have roles inside the subordinate clause: "that" is the subject of its clause, just as "this" is its direct object.

1

This is hard to properly understand as a native so I can see why you are confused.

To me "so far" does mean "up to this time".

The "but that" can be replaced with "but I noticed that" to help with understanding. They both mean the same thing and "that" is just a shortened version of "I noticed that" in this context.

So, a paraphrase might look like this:

...but I noticed that, up to this time, most of the benefits of that domination over nature which men call "progress" has accrued to the male of the species.

1

"So far" does mean "up to this point". There is parallelism in this sentence, with "argue" applying to both "that changing nature ... " and "that so far". Implicitly, it's

One might argue that changing nature is precisely what civilization has done, but [one might also argue] that so far most of the benefits of that domination over nature which men call "progress" has accrued to the male of the species.

"that" is a conjunction between the verb "argue" and the subordinate clause "so far ..", which acts as the object of "argue".

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .