I am struggling with the meaning of the sentence below in bold. The paragraph is cited from 'Walk on by...' in The Big Think Book. I read its Chinese edition, but find that its translation does not make any sense. So I try to read the original text and for my poor English I am confused again. I can't understand the meaning of "promotes', the function and meaning of "as therefore desirable", and the meaning of "In view of the sheer chance regarding".

The begging relationship,though,need not be seen as one of humiliation. Get metro man(someone begs in the metro)up, off his knees. He is then a fellow human being, down on his luck. True, he may be bowed by circumstances, but giver and receiver may recognize their common humanity. Fellow-feeling need not cause humiliation; rather, it engenders sympathy and generosity. Yes, the beggar is helpless. But a cry for help need not be humiliating; and a cry for help is radically better than starvation. As a rabbi has said, 'god stands with the poor person at the door'. Atheists substitute 'our common humanity' for 'God'. None of the above promotes begging as therefore desirable. In view of the sheer chance regarding which beggars attract most attention, which ones are genuinely in need, which ones are most deserving, there are good reasons for authorities to aim at greater success in providing for the dispossessed.

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    I have edited your passage to include the natural spaces between words and after certain punctuation. I expect that I have missed some paragraph breaks which should be there. Please note that these are very important to English (and all the other languages which rely on this kind of writing). Without these, the paragraph appears dense and difficult to read. As much as possible, please try to include correct spelling, punctuation, and spacing when you write in English.
    – Andrew
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 6:09

1 Answer 1


I can understand your confusion, as the entire passage does not really say very much. It makes a lot of general statements which are only tangentially linked to each other, and do very little to support the eventual conclusion.

Which is to say, if you have trouble understanding this passage, don't feel bad. I'm a native speaker and I do understand the meaning of each of the different words, and each of the different sentences -- but, the overall lack of coherence to the argument, and its reliance on appeal to principle rather than objective fact, is more irritating than persuasive.

Anyway, to address your specific questions:

None of the above promotes begging as therefore desirable.

"None of the previous statements should be interpreted as a justification for begging." I'm not sure how the author draws this conclusion, as none of the previous statements actually tries to "justify begging". They are all appeals to the moral principle of compassion, nothing more.

In view of the sheer chance regarding which beggars attract most attention

"Given that it's pure luck which beggars attract the most attention". Is it, though? I'm not sure I'm willing to accept this statement without any supporting evidence. It's also unclear why "the authorities" should be involved in "providing for the poor" as none of this sentence, nor anything previous, mentions why government should be involved.

There are missing links in the chain of logic, which seriously detract from what otherwise might be a reasonable assertion, and also make it difficult to read. It's not surprising that the translation makes little sense, as the translators are working from a nonsensical source.

  • Thank you so much! I think I had known the meaning of those two parts after reading your explanation. It’s my fault that I did not cite the entire article and made a mistake by saying the citing is from one paragraph while it's actually from two paragraphs. I am so sorry! The author gives some examples of "humiliation" and "charitable giving" in proving his opinion in the first part of the article, though "the authorities" did show once. Thanks for your editing and advice! I will try my best to keep it in mind.
    – Y anfanyu
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 9:22
  • @Yanfanyu I thought there would be more, but that doesn't really change my opinion of the writing style. I might agree that the "beggar" deserves respect, and that we share a "common humanity", and also in a religious justification for charity -- but not necessarily agree that it's the government's role to provide charity. The author fails to make a good case.
    – Andrew
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 17:48
  • @Yanfanyu However, according to a description of the book, these are meant to be humorous and possibly facetious arguments. So it's possible the author has deliberately written in a bad style, in order to demonstrate a logical fallacy.
    – Andrew
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 17:49

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