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    #1

    Puzzling Sentence

    Can you explain structure the riddling sentence below me? Thanks in advance.

    “Life is what the least of us make the most of us feel the least of us make the most of.”

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    #2

    Re: Puzzling Sentence

    Arthur, you need to come up with better thread titles than "puzzling sentence". Use actual words from the questions to make the titles unique.

    Your sentence is more cutesy than informative.

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    #3

    Re: Puzzling Sentence

    Can you explain the structure of the puzzling sentence below me?
    Where did you find the sentence, Arthur?

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    #4

    Re: Puzzling Sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    Where did you find the sentence, Arthur?
    The sentence belongs to logician Willard Van Orman Quine.

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    #5

    Re: Puzzling Sentence

    In what publication and how did you come to encounter it?

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    #6

    Re: Puzzling Sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    In what publication and how did you come to encounter it?
    I quoted book of Reuben Hersh in page 170, 1997, What Is Mathematics, Really? You can see bigger part it i attached below.

    Quine granted an interview to Harvard Magazine. "'Someone who was a student here many years ago recently sent me a copy of Methods of Logic and asked me to inscribe it for him and to write something about my philosophy of life.' (The last three words spoken in gravelly disbelief.)

    'And what did you write?'

    'Life is agid. Life is fulgid. Life is what the least of us make most of us feel the least of us make the most of. Life is a burgeoning, a quickening of the dim primordial urge in the murky wastes of time.'

    'Agid?'

    'Yes, it's a made-up word.'

    'What you're saying is it's not a serious question.'

    'That's right, it's not a serious question. Not a question you can make adequate sense of.'
    Last edited by Arthur Schopenhauer; 19-Nov-2015 at 13:09.

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    #7

    Re: Puzzling Sentence

    Thank you. You misquoted the sentence in your OP by adding 'the' before 'most'. That probably makes a difference which I need time to ponder over.

    (No offence, but I don't accept 'Friend' requests from anybody.)

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    #8

    Re: Puzzling Sentence

    It means that a few stupid people shouting stupid ideas can make more thoughtful people assume they represent a majority opinion.

    If you are following the US presidential election, we currently have two guys leading polls who have no chance of becoming president. It's funny to hear TV pundits saying, "If the election was today, ______ would be president". How people respond to polls is not a reliable indicator of their actual voting.

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    #9

    Re: Puzzling Sentence

    The typo in the original post is significant. In order to understand the sentence, one has
    to understand that "make most of us" is a verb ("make") followed by a noun phrase ("most
    of us"). In contrast, "make the most of" is -- as a whole -- one idiomatic verb phrase. The
    object of "of" is "what," which is positioned, in surface structure, at the beginning of the
    free relative clause ("what the least of us make most of us feel the least of us make the
    most of"). "Life" is identified with "what." Quine's sentence is a WH-cleft (or pseudo-cleft).

    The least of us make most of us feel the least of us make the most of life.
    WH-cleft: Life is what the least of us make most of us feel the least of us make the most of. (Quine)

    Compare: Mary makes Paul feel she likes flowers.
    WH-cleft: Flowers are what Mary makes Paul feel she likes.

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