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men having thought of

Discussion in 'English Only' started by SuprunP, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. SuprunP

    SuprunP Senior Member

    Ukraine
    Ukrainian & Russian
    This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity. All healthy men having thought of their own suicide, it can be seen, without further explanation, that there is a direct connection between this feeling and the longing for death.
    (Albert Camus; Absurdity and Suicide)

    I fail to see how this sentence works.

    'All healthy men having thought of their own suicide' suggests to me that there must be another verb describing what those 'healthy men' actually do after 'having thought of their own suicide'.

    For example:
    All healthy men having thought of their own suicide, it can be seen, without further explanation, [think/recognize/admit etc. (?)] that there is a direct connection between this feeling and the longing for death.

    What am I missing here?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hi Suprun

    It's an absolute construction, like the red clause in:
    The clock having struck 12, Cinderella had to leave the ball.

    Does that help?:)
     
  3. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    It is a device to be used with caution but works well when in the correct context. I see that your link actually goes to a book on Existentialism that, in the quote's context, is discussing suicide and using the quote as an example.

    All healthy men having thought of their own suicide, = Given the fact that it has been demonstrated that
    All healthy men having have thought of their own suicide...

    It is a statement of a position that has been demonstrated and from which further conclusions will be reached. Indeed, it reminds me strongly of

    “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice)

    i.e.
    “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that All healthy men, having thought of their own suicide, ...


     
  4. SuprunP

    SuprunP Senior Member

    Ukraine
    Ukrainian & Russian
    Hello Loob

    The concept of 'the clock' and its 'having struck 12', and Cinderella's having had to leave the ball has no problem being understood by my not very philosophical brain.

    That's presumably why I still don't see the sentence in question as a lucid one. I'll try to describe my feelings, although I'm almost sure I'll fail at this enterprise.


    The clock having struck 12, Cinderella had to leave the ball. ~ Cinderella had to leave the ball immediately after she had heard the clock strike 12.
    Thus 'the clock having struck 12' has this almost impalpable aura of closeness, nearness, immediateness, as it were. I don't perceive the same when I read 'all healthy men having thought of their own suicide'... Is there a particular exact moment when all healthy men thought of their own suicide and after that there was no thinking about it whatsoever (for instance, by another healthy man who hadn't thought about it yet)? It baffles me.

    Thank you PaulQ.

    Does 'all healthy men having thought of their own suicide' relate to 'the clock having struck 12' in any way then?

    Thanks.
     
  5. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    Yes, they are both a statement of the situation from which something further will flow/follow.

    It is exemplified in such common phrases as

    "Having reached the top, they could see for miles"
    "Being a tall child, he could reach the top shelf."

    and to which has been added a subject

    "The Wa-Tutsi, being a proud tribe, it will be seen that they could not tolerate this incursion."

    In "All healthy men, having thought of their own suicide, it can be seen, ..." - the comma helps
     
  6. SuprunP

    SuprunP Senior Member

    Ukraine
    Ukrainian & Russian
    Thank you PaulQ and Loob.

    Now I can see what's holding me back. It's simply the notion that there's an exact moment when 'all healthy men thought of their own suicide' (could be likened to 'having reached the top', I think) or a precise state of having already thought of their own suicide all healthy men were/are in (could be likened to 'being a proud tribe', I think). I can only see it as a constant process -- new healthy men are being perpetually struck by a thought of their own suicide.
    I must be wrong and need to read more of Camus
    :)
     
  7. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    Stoke on Trent
    England and English
    Was this written in English in the first place? It seems a little clunky, even accepting the light shed by other contributors to the thread.
     
  8. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    :thumbsup::thumbsup:
     
  9. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    It may well be a translation from French. The French sentence may have started with the familiar absolute construction in that language which, literally translated, would be 'It being given that (all men have thought...)'.

    However, there is nothing wrong with the text as given in post 1. The punctuation there is correct as it is, since the phrase 'all men' comes within the participial phrase, not outside it.
     
  10. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    Stoke on Trent
    England and English
    Maybe is reads better in the full text, if some ground has been laid to show that all men have thought this way, otherwise it sounds daft!
     
  11. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    This kind of construction is overwhelmingly common in French. You can tell that this isn't a great translation because of the awkward, untranslated "properly" in the first sentence. Try:

    "Given that all healthy men have thought of their own suicide, we can conclude, without further explanation, that there is a direct connection between this feeling and the longing for death."

    Hopefully that makes the sense clear.

    Note to wandle's post #9: French doesn't need to have the "it being given that..." A French sentence could just as well start with "All healthy men having thought..." and convey the same meaning. A good translator would have streamlined things.
     

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