in the following sentence, what does the phrasal verb ''entered upon'' mean? and what does all the pronoun ''it'' refer to? to buddhism or dummy subject?

Buddhism is a hundred times more realistic than Christianity. It has entered upon the inheritance of objectively and coolly putting problems. It came to life after several hundred years of philosophical development. The notion of “God” is done away with as soon as it appears. Prayer is out of the question. So is asceticism. No categorical imperative. No coercion at all, not even within the monastic community. Hence it also does not challenge to fight against those of a different faith. Its teaching turns against nothing so impressively as against the feeling of revengefulness, animosity and resentment.

source : Frederick Nietzche, quoted in Fundamentals of Buddhism page 3.

  • "It has entered upon the inheritance of objectively and coolly putting problems" doesn't sound like a proper English sentence.
    – Joachim
    Aug 17, 2022 at 11:59
  • 1
    Indeed. It looks like a seriously incompetent translation.
    – Colin Fine
    Aug 17, 2022 at 12:01
  • Found the original... Der Antichrist, paragraph 20: Der Buddhismus ist hundert Mal realistischer als das Christenthum, — er hat die Erbschaft des objektiven und kühlen Probleme-Stellens im Leibe, er kommt nach einer Hunderte von Jahren dauernden philosophischen Bewegung, der Begriff „Gott“ ist bereits abgethan, als er kommt.
    – James K
    Aug 17, 2022 at 12:13
  • Please note, it is really essential to have the source for this question. I located it from your quote, but I shouldn't need to search the internet. Please remember to cite the book, and author, and link to the source.
    – James K
    Aug 17, 2022 at 12:21

1 Answer 1


It refers to Buddhism.

It is a rather old style. If you are a son of a nobleman, and still a child when your father dies, you don't immediately inherit his position. Instead, you inherit the position when you reach a certain age, or a certain status such as marriage. This is called "entering into your inheritance", but "enter upon your inheritance" seems to be a variant. I've found the same phrasal verb in other translations of Nietzche, for example "enter upon a vocation", that is start a career after training.

So Buddhism (Nietzche says) inherited this tradition of objectivity after several hundred years of philosophical development.

But there is no such verb in the original, this is an interpolation by the translator.

  • 1
    I wasn't familiar with upon in the cited context, but as this usage chart clearly shows, entered upon his inheritance was in fact more common than entered into his inheritance until a century ago, when the position reversed. Aug 17, 2022 at 12:23

You must log in to answer this question.

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