Results 1 to 3 of 3
  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
    keannu is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    4,529
    Post Thanks / Like

    success divided by pretensions???

    In the below headache paragraph, I have two questions.
    1. If "pretensions" equals supposed potentialities, it sounds weird. "Pretensions" have two meanings like "bluffing or pretening fake ability" and "argument or insisting something", maybe the latter makes sense in this case, but I'm not sure what it exactly means.

    2. What does "to be normal" mean? Does it mean "we should think of ourselves as a normal person" or "what is real or actual, no more or no less than that"?

    ".....With no attempt there can be no failure and with no failure no humiliation. So our self-esteem in this world depends entirely on what we back ourselves to be and do. It is determined by the ratio of our actualities to our supposed potentialities. Thus, success divided by pretensions equals self-esteem. This illustrates how every rise in our levels of expectation entails a rise in the dangers of humiliation. What we understand to be normal is critical in determining our chances of happiness. It also hints at two ways for raising our self-esteem. On the one hand, we may try to achieve more; and on the other, we may reduce the number of things we want to achieve. The advantages of the latter approach lie in the following statement: To give up pretensions is as blessed a relief as to get them gratified...."

  2. #2
    probus's Avatar
    probus is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    2,238
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: success divided by pretensions???

    By "What we understand to be normal" the author means what we think a person ought to possess or achieve. Some people may think it is normal to own an automobile, and that to lack an automobile means a person has failed in life. Others may consider such an expectation ridiculous or even outrageous.

    In this passage pretension is used in the sense of "a claim or aspiration to a particular status or quality" (definition from wiktionary.org). The author suggests that success divided by pretensions equals self-esteem. One's success is a fixed quantity at least for the present; it is whatever it is. So the fewer pretensions one has to divide into it the higher one's self esteem will be. For example, if you don't think it is normal to have a car, your lack of one will not trouble you. But if you think it is normal to have a car, you will be unhappy as long as you don't have one.

  3. #3
    keannu's Avatar
    keannu is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    4,529
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: success divided by pretensions???

    Quote Originally Posted by probus View Post
    By "What we understand to be normal" the author means what we think a person ought to possess or achieve. Some people may think it is normal to own an automobile, and that to lack an automobile means a person has failed in life. Others may consider such an expectation ridiculous or even outrageous.

    In this passage pretension is used in the sense of "a claim or aspiration to a particular status or quality" (definition from wiktionary.org). The author suggests that success divided by pretensions equals self-esteem. One's success is a fixed quantity at least for the present; it is whatever it is. So the fewer pretensions one has to divide into it the higher one's self esteem will be. For example, if you don't think it is normal to have a car, your lack of one will not trouble you. But if you think it is normal to have a car, you will be unhappy as long as you don't have one.

    Thank you so much for your clear explanation. You are the man! I used to live in Toronto, I miss it! Where do you live?

Similar Threads

  1. a long sentence which must be divided
    By onurediperu in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-Apr-2010, 16:33
  2. [Vocabulary] divided the "presentation / tasks" into different topics
    By uktous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 28-Dec-2009, 22:01
  3. [Vocabulary] Difference between divided between and divided into.
    By MarisolC in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 09-Aug-2009, 13:37
  4. Divided by a common language
    By chrisdev in forum Teaching English
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 19-Apr-2008, 12:08
  5. should divide or should be divided?
    By ada1 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 29-Aug-2007, 12:17

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •