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In this following context, what does the word ''But'' mean? Although or however? or what?

Commonly I found using of the word 'but' somewhere a setence beginning with the word ''but'' is not opposite of its preceding sentence. In that situation I'm confused to take the meaning of it. Here also does it confuse me.

Please explain this to me.

The context:

And, as we have seen, the mental phenomena, just as all bodily phenomena, are subject to change, and no persisting element, no ego-entity, no soul, is there to be found. But where there is no real unchanging entity, no soul, there one cannot speak of the transmigration of such a thing.

Source: Page. 8 ''Fundamentals of Buddhism'' by Nyanatiloka Mahåthera

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  • You're right, it's all part of one continuous idea without any contrast. It's bad writing. There should be a different conjunction there, like "And".
    – gotube
    Oct 4, 2022 at 15:04

2 Answers 2

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Your suggestions of however or although both seem to me to fit. The contrast here is within the second sentence.

But where there is no real unchanging entity, no soul, there one cannot speak of the transmigration of such a thing.

Could be rewritten as

One cannot speak of transmigration if there is no real unchanging entity, no soul.

Which in my opinion would be clearer.

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X but Y means:

  • the same as and but where Y is the opposite of what is expected.

I went to the store but I couldn't find any milk. (You were expecting to find milk)

  • Y is an exception to/prevents X, or something you can figure out from X.

I took all but $50 of the $2000 (you took $1950).

I wanted to talk to Martha but Mary was there. (You didn't want to talk in front of Martha).

"X but Y" can also be expressed "But X, Y" especially when entire clauses are involved.

So:

And, as we have seen, the mental phenomena, just as all bodily phenomena, are subject to change, and no persisting element, no ego-entity, no soul, is there to be found. But where there is no real unchanging entity, no soul, there one cannot speak of the transmigration of such a thing.

"Where there is no real unchanging entity" prevents "speak of transmigration."

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