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I am confused with the syntactic structure of the sentence in bold, especially the last part. Can anyone help explain?

An intention to do something wrong or against the law is rarely considered as bad as when the intention gets fulfilled. If we could be prosecuted solely for our intentions, however distant from success, we should almost all have criminal records. A comparison may be made with those religious doctrines which seem to collapse psychological states, including ones even more remote from actions than intentions, into the actions which would typically result. Following the New Testament, an American president, Jimmy Carter, accepted that lusting in one’s heart for a woman other than one’s wife is morally the same as the act of adultery. More recently, some extreme feminists have bizarrely claimed that watching the portrayal of rape is the same as raping. ——the big think book

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    Please always cite the source. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 13 '18 at 10:49
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The verb phrase is collapse ... something ... into .... something else.

The magician collapsed a bouquet of roses into a handful of dust.

The sentence in question is not very clear in that regard because it is somewhat elliptical:

... doctrines which seem to collapse psychological states ... into the actions that would typically result [from those states of mind]

Moreover, collapse is being used figuratively there, not literally. It could be paraphrased as "reducing something to something else". Thoughts are collapsed into the deeds the thinker is thinking about doing. For example, lustful thoughts are reduced (when so "collapsed") to lustful actions. Such religious doctrines would consider them equally culpable. Any distinctions between thought and deed that would cause one to treat them as different things would be ignored.

Another way of putting it:

A comparison may be made with those religious doctrines which conflate thought and deed, even when there is no intention whatsoever to commit the acts imagined.

  • '... collapse is being used figuratively there, not literally. It could be paraphrased as "reducing something to something else".' Maybe "collapse ... into" might be easier understood if you think of a telescope with its segments "collapsing" into each other. – Lorel C. Dec 13 '18 at 17:52
  • @Lorel C: He collapsed into a heap. The earthquake collapsed the bridge to rubble. I think a telescope might work sometimes, but not in all contexts, especially with into to to. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 13 '18 at 20:16
  • Thanks again,I wanna say your answer helps me a lot.My English is poor ,so i would express my appreciation in Chinese.今天又仔细看了一遍您的回答,现在我已经完全理解了句子的语法结构、词组的意思,真的非常感谢!一开始,我完全没有想到‘into’是跟'collapse'搭配构成词组,以为它会跟‘compare’相关,而且,对'typically result'在句子中的功能跟意思,我也摸不着头脑。但是您清晰的解释,包括对语法跟词义的阐述,以及换了个形式的表达,让我彻底明白了这句话。谢谢!对了,还有您关于列出资料来源的建议,也非常感谢。 – Y anfanyu Dec 14 '18 at 3:29

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