cause you to lose your reason 'or you have none to lose.'

stenka25

Senior Member
South Korea, Han-gul
The below paragraph is from a famous book, MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING.

You can encounter many blogs which have quotes from this book.^^


I think it was Lessing who once said, "There are things which must cause you to lose your reason or you have none to lose." An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior. Even we psychiatrists expect the reactions of a man to an abnormal situation, such as being committed to an asylum, to be abnormal in proportion to the degree of his normality.


Of the paragraph, the thick-red part of this sentence is hard to comprehend.
"There are things which must cause you to lose your reason or you have none to lose."


Let me give you my understanding.
It seems in front of the thick-red part "in which" is omitted.

I mean : "There are things which must cause you to lose your reason or (in which) you have none to lose."

So I figure out the meaning like this,
there are such situations...
#1 that you lose your reason
#2 you have none to lose in the situations.


Am I right?


If it's OK, ONE MORE question.

Does this ELLIPSE of "in which" happen often? And can you give me one other example of this?
Thanks a lot.
 
  • Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    There is no "missing" in which implied. "None" is a pronoun referring to "your reason." The sentence could be written, repetitively, as "There are things which must cause you to lose your reason or you have no reason to lose."

    Recasting (and simplifying to make the structure clearer) the sentence to "There are things in which you have no reason to lose" doesn't make sense to me.
     

    St. Nick

    Senior Member
    English
    I think it means 'There are things which must cause you to lose your capacity for rational thought. If these types of things do not cause you to lose your capacity for rational thought, you have no capacity for rational thought in the first place.'
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    The sentence means:

    Either (1) there exist things that cause you to lose your reason, or else (2) you do not have any reason. In other words, for any person with reason, there must exist things that will cause them to lose it.

    "Reason" here means, as St. Nick says, a capacity for rational thought.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Of the paragraph, the thick red part of this sentence is hard to comprehend. "There are things which must cause you to lose your reason or you have none to lose."

    Let me give you my understanding. It seems in front of the thick-red part "in which" is omitted.
    No, Stenka, nothing has been omitted.

    You didn't question "to lose your reason", so I assume that you know it means to "go mad", to react in an illogical, senseless manner. This can happen if a person is so terribly shocked or frightened or confused that one's mind cannot function normally. The author is saying that to react this way under some extreme circumstances is normal, that the normal, healthy, reasonable human mind can take only a certain degree of abnormal input before it "cracks".

    The author points out, in other words, that it is normal for a normal human being to react by going a little crazy when confronting a crazy situation. It has been observed elsewhere, for example, that those who witnessed certain of the horrors of September 11, 2001 could not possibly have remained calmly "reasonable" in those moments, unless they didn't have a normal mind in the first place.

    This, then, is what the author is saying: There are things that (normally would) cause you to lose your reason (lose your mind, go crazy, if only temporarily), assuming you are a normal person. If they don't—if you don't react that way, if you calmly act as if nothing unusual has happened—then there is a question as to whether you have reason (a mind).

    P.S. What you described (accurately) as "thick" print is called boldface or just bold.
     
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