1

The problem here is one which arises in relation to any study dealing with matters of profound human concern. Someone who is profoundly uninterested in political affairs is unlikely to make a good political scientist. But nor on the other hand is the most passionately committed party politician. The general point might be put something like this. Where there is not enough love, there is likely to be a lack of penetration into the inwardness of the subject studied. But too much love may blind a man and prevent him from seeing some of the inherent problems and difficulties.

nor = 2. used before a positive verb to agree with something negative that has just been said

  1. Nor already confirms a negative meaning (but with a positive verb), so why's on the other hand necessary? If I keep nor but remove on the other hand, then what happens?

  2. Conversely, what if I remove nor and keep on the other hand?

Please explain the steps, thought processes; I’d like to try to resolve this myself in the future?

1

The sentence with the bolded words needs to be considered in the context of the preceding one.  This is what the sentences mean (after nor on the other hand has been removed):

Someone who is profoundly uninterested in political affairs is unlikely to make a good political scientist.  The most passionately committed party politician is likely to make a good political scientist.

The nor is used in accordance with the brief definition that you included.  It turns

The most passionately committed party politician is likely to make a good political scientist.

into an agreement with the negative statement in the previous sentence:

The most passionately committed party politician is unlikely to make a good political scientist.

As Tim explained, the on the other hand emphasizes the point that these two sentences are talking about people who are at opposite extremes.  This is reiterated in the last two sentences in the selection:

Where there is not enough love, ….  But too much love ….

It’s analogous to Goldilocks’ problem:

“This porridge is too hot!”  … and  “This porridge is too cold!”

with the implication that moderate values (between the extremes) are better.

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On the other hand adds this meaning to the sentence: nor would a person who is just the opposite of uninterested, a party politician.

A person uninterested in politics won't make a good political scientist. Nor would someone who is interested in politics but whose true passion is musical performance.

There, we are not talking about opposite ends of the spectrum.

But with profoundly uninterested in politics....party politician, we are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Thus, nor on the other hand...

  • I agree with your explanation. On a slightly different tack, I think 'nor on the other hand' is confusing as it stands, I think we would normally put 'on the other hands between comas. – tunny Nov 8 '14 at 23:18
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The "nor" is necessary.

The "but" is totally extraneous, as "nor" provides sufficient negation. (I don't know if "but nor" is acceptable in BrE, but I have never seem it in AmE, and would consider it nonstandard AmE at best.)

The "on the other hand" is, as was pointed out, not strictly necessary, but is appropriately used here for emphasis. It would parse more smoothly if set off by commas.

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