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  1. tahasozgen's Avatar
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    #1

    For what is the heart but a spring; and the nerves, but so many strings and the joint

    Hi There;
    I am reading a book about artifical intelligence, and there is a passage that I cannot understand.

    In his 1651 book Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes suggested the idea of an “artificial animal,” arguing “For what is the heart but a spring; and the nerves, but so many strings; and the joints, but so many wheels.”
    heart: the organ in your chest that sends the blood around your body.
    spring: a piece of curved or bent metal that can be pressed into a smaller space but will return to its usual shape if released.
    joint: a place in your body where two bones are connected.
    string:(a piece of) strong, thin rope made by twisting very thin threads together, used for fastening and tying things.

    What is the meaning of "For What" in this context? What is the meaning the sentence?

    Thanks in advance.
    I am not a teacher.

  2. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: For what is the heart but a spring; and the nerves, but so many strings and the j

    The sentence is likening the human body to a machine. The heart is a spring, the nerves are strings, and the joints are wheels.

    The word For is used as a conjunction here, not a preposition. You can use the phrase For what is ...? as a literary way to define or describe something in your own way.

    I'm thinking now of a line from one of my favourite songs—My Way:

    For what is a man?

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: For what is the heart but a spring; and the nerves, but so many strings and the j

    Quote Originally Posted by tahasozgen View Post
    I am reading a book ...
    Please provide the title and author. This is required every time you quote from someone else's writing.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. tahasozgen's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: For what is the heart but a spring; and the nerves, but so many strings and the j

    The source of the passage is "Artifical Intelligence A Modern Approach" written by Stuart Russel and Peter Norvig.
    I am not a teacher.

  5. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #5

    Re: For what is the heart but a spring; and the nerves, but so many strings and the j

    What else is the heart but a spring?

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