Babbitt acknowledged that “humanism” cannot replace “true religion”

sophiasophie

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

I want to write the following sentence, but I am not sure about the tense.

Babbitt acknowledged that “humanism” cannot replace “true religion”

Babbitt is a humanist who has died many years ago.

Should I use acknowledges or acknowledged, cannot or could not?
 
Last edited:
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    You can use either, depending on your context and intended meaning. If you are going to discuss Babbit's ideas as true in the present, use the present tense. If you are going to discuss this as an argument between Babbitt and his opponents that happened in the past, use the past.

    The previous or following sentence may be helpful.

    Cross-posted.
     

    sophiasophie

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    You can use either, depending on your context and intended meaning. If you are going to discuss Babbit's ideas as true in the present, use the present tense. If you are going to discuss this as an argument between Babbitt and his opponents that happened in the past, use the past.

    The previous or following sentence may be helpful.

    Cross-posted.
    I just want to state the opinon of a person who has passed away. I don't know whether his opinion is "true in the present", since he has died……
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    We use the present when we are talking about an author's writing: "Shakespeare says that all the world is a stage."
    We use the past, to talk about facts about a person: Shakespeare thought that the queen would like his play.

    We don't have enough context -- information about the rest of this text -- to say which you should used.
     

    sophiasophie

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    We use the present when we are talking about an author's writing: "Shakespeare says that all the world is a stage."
    We use the past, to talk about facts about a person: Shakespeare thought that the queen would like his play.

    We don't have enough context -- information about the rest of this text -- to say which you should used.
    Context: it is a paper about the relationship between humanism and religion. I want to list the opinions of some people, with no regard to the specific time when they held such opinions.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Babbitt acknowledged that “humanism” cannot replace “true religion”
    That combination of tenses is in my view simply incorrect.
    The writer may have one of two intentions here: (a) to report what Babbitt's view was, but not agreeing or disagreeing with it; (b) to report Babbitt's view with approval.

    The word 'acknowledged' itself implies some agreement on the part of the writer. This word suggests that you, the writer, also believe the proposition that “humanism” cannot replace “true religion”.
    If that is your intention, some such word as 'proposition', 'idea', or more approvingly 'truth', should be included in order to take the content of that proposition out of the time context of Babbitt's statement:
    ' Babbitt acknowledged the truth that “humanism” cannot replace “true religion” '.
    With this, you definitely bring Babbitt's view into the context of today's debate, showing where you stand on that question.

    If it is not your intention to express agreement with Babbitt, then the main verb should be changed and the verb in the indirect statement put in the past:
    ' Babbitt accepted (or 'was persuaded', etc.) that “humanism” could not replace “true religion” '.
    With this, you definitely place the statement as part of an historical account: it shows you are not taking a stand on the question.
     
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top