a certain principle that must...be unreasonable.

< Previous | Next >


I don't understand the use of "must"here. "Must be unreasonable"? If so, the result ("It welcomes intimacy, fosters affection...It is the cement of social relationships) speaks otherwise. Of course you may say "through unreasonable means to achieve reasonable achievements (we all want intimacy, affection and harmonious social relationships). But it doesn't qualify the use of "must" (the description "must be unreasonable" appears all wrong).

The question of this thread is what is the true meaning of "must" here?


It welcomes intimacy, fosters affection, and invites vulnerability. It is the cement of social relationships in Japan.

Perhaps herein lies the greatest peril of hypocognition. It is facing a concept that captures something we cannot fathom, an exotic emotion we cannot grasp, a certain idea that arouses in others fervor and enthusiasm but strikes us as nothing but foreign and bizarre, a certain principle that must, against our own reason, be unreasonable.

-Scientific American

Last edited:
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Presumably this refers to something that is familiar in Japan and unfamiliar elsewhere. In Japan it plays an important social role; but as the rest of us don't have the concept, we don't understand it, and in fact find it unreasonable. Laid against our own principles of reason, it must be unreasonable. I suppose 'must' has the slight "but it isn't" connotation as in 'But it must be here! Where else could I have put it?', acknowledging that it is in fact reasonable in its home context.
    < Previous | Next >