as opposed to

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azz

Senior Member
armenian
Can one say
a. We consider the organism as a whole, as opposed to an approach that tends to see it as a mechanical sum of its parts.
b. Our approach to the organism is holistic, as opposed to an approach that tends to see it as a mechanical sum of its parts.

?

The sentences are mine.

I think they both work. The second one is probably better since you have two 'approaches' that are being contrasted. But I think people do use sentences such as (a).

Many Thanks.
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I disagree. Both sentences are poorly constructed. When you contrast two things using "as opposed to", they need to be structurally compatible.

    In (a) you are contrasting "a whole" to "an approach", in (b) you are contrasting "holistic" to "an approach". What you really want to contrast is either two approaches or two properties of approaches.

    I think we could repair (a) by deleting "an approach that tends to see it as a" and inserting "the" in its place,
    and perhaps (b) by deleting "an approach that tends to" and changing "see" to "seeing".
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Can one say
    a. We consider the organism as a whole,
    as opposed to an approach that tends to see it as a mechanical sum of its parts.
    You can use " , not as .... the mechanical... ."

    We consider the organism as a whole (rather than)/not as (seeing it as) the mechanical sum of its partsHermione

     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    I hope this is not too far off the actual question, if at all:

    Isn't "a whole"/"holistic" essentially equal to a "sum of its parts"? If so "as opposed to" doesn't seem to make sense since it tries to juxtapose two things that are in fact "equal".
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    No, the whole is often said not to be equal to the sum of its parts, because the wholeness itself adds an important element that would otherwise be missing. A pile of nuts and bolts and assorted bits of metal is one thing, but the car engine that results from putting them all together is quite another. You could take a $1000 bill and cut it into tiny pieces, and it would be of no use to you until you solve the jigsaw puzzle and stick it all back together again.
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    I've heard the expression "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts" many times and I understand both it and what you're saying. I suppose I simply don't entirely agree with the premise in relationship to the topic of holistic medicine and/or analysis of organisms. But I suppose my philosophical view tainted my view of this topic, so it's ultimately off-topic. Thanks for responding though.
     

    azz

    Senior Member
    armenian
    Thank you all very very much for your contributions,

    I see the problem in (a). The sentence is understandable, but there is no parallelism. But could one not say that in (b) it is 'our approach' that has been 'opposed' to 'an approach that....'?

    One could front the 'as opposed' phase thus:

    c.
    As opposed to an approach that tends to see it as a mechanical sum of its parts, our approach to the organism is holistic,

    I am trying Edinbirgher! Maybe I am reaching!

    Many Thanks.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Nice try, but the inversion makes it sound odd. Let me suggest another alternative.

    d. We take a holistic approach to the organism, as opposed to one that sees it as...
    This moves the word "approach" nearer to "as opposed to" (so near, in fact, that we don't even need to repeat the word "approach" in the second half), and because "organism" is buried in a prepositional clause, there is less danger of seeing it as one of the sides of the opposition.

    We could move "approach" even closer to "as opposed to", by shifting "the organism" into the second half:
    e. We take a holistic approach, as opposed to one that sees the organism as...
    But frankly I don't think that's necessary.
     
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