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This is the context:

As soon as I understood the principles, I relinquished for ever the pursuit of the mathematics; nor can I lament that I desisted, before my mind was hardened by the habit of rigid demonstration, so destructive of the finer feelings of moral evidence, which must, however, determine the actions and opinions of our lives. Edward Gibbon

I am not a native speaker and I want to translate this sentence to another language and this is an old sentence with words and style that I'm not very familiar with. so I know it's a lot to ask but can anyone write the bold part of the sentence in a more modern way? I really need it for my project. thanks in advance.

closed as off-topic by Jason Bassford Supports Monica, Andrew, RubioRic, shin, ColleenV Jun 11 at 21:27

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  • 1
    (1) nor can I lament that I desisted = and I am not sorry that I did so [i.e. that I relinquished for ever the pursuit of the mathematics] (2) before my mind was hardened by the habit of rigid demonstration = before I learned to accept only what could be proved (3) so destructive of the finer feelings of moral evidence = which makes it very difficult to weigh up what is unquantifiable (4) which must, however, determine the actions and opinions of our lives = when we need to do exactly that in order to form our opinions and decide what to do. – user96060 Jun 10 at 5:09
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It is a bit too much to ask us to rewrite it, but we can perhaps help you rewrite it by summarising what Gibbon seems to be saying.

Gibbon claims that the way we conduct our lives ("the actions and opinions of our lives") is determined by our emotions ("the finer feelings of moral evidence") rather than by cold logic ("the habit of rigid demonstration") - a habit induced, according to Gibbon, by ("the pursuit of the mathematics").

You probably need to understand that the word "mathematics" was regarded as plural in Gibbon's day.

Gibbon thus seems to have been an early advocate of the benefits of what today we might term "emotional intelligence" relative to what is measured by IQ tests.

As a mathematician I would, of course, deny that the study of mathematics could, of itself, lead to the withering or emotional intelligence. Nevertheless we probably all know of emotionally unintelligent geeks.

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