comma with shared object: quest for, and attainment of, ataraxia

Sextus

Senior Member
Spanish
I'm not sure whether I should use all of the commas in the following examples:

1) "My second purpose is to determine whether the Pyrrhonist’s quest for, and attainment of, ataraxia and his philanthropia are, as has been generally thought, essential aspects of his stance."

2) "There is another crucial text, probably the most important, that should remove all appearance of dogmatism from the exposition, made in PH i and iii, of the Skeptic’s quest for, and attainment of, ataraxia."

3) "The purpose of this section is to determine whether the quest for, and the attainment of, ataraxia in matters of belief should be deemed essential to Pyrrhonism."

In this case, I'm referring to the quest for ataraxia and the attainment of ataraxia as two different things; and I'm gonna emphasize this point in the section in question.

4) "It seems to follow from this that both the quest for, and the attainment of, ataraxia are essential to the Pyrrhonean philosophy."

5) "The second text is found at AM i 6, where, as was noted before, there is no mention of the Skeptic’s quest for, and attainment of, unperturbedness in the story of his philosophical journey."

6) "Certainly PH i 232–233 cannot be taken as conclusive evidence that the quest for, and the attainment of, ataraxia are not essential to Pyrrhonism."

7) "I find this omission at the very least suggestive, since if the search for, or the attainment of, ataraxia were inherent in Pyrrhonism, one would certainly expect Sextus to mention them in the present passage".

8) "I shall begin by analyzing Sextus Empiricus’ exposition of the Skeptic’s search for, and attainment of, unperturbedness with the object of showing that he is consistently Pyrrhonean".

9) "In what follows I shall attempt to show that Sextus does not regard the search for, and the attainment of, ataraxia in matters of belief as essential to his Skepticism."

10) "Even if at times the tone and the terminology employed by Sextus seem to point to the contrary, the Skeptic’s search for, and attainment of, ataraxia and his philanthropic therapy do not commit him to any belief."

General note: the reason why I've put commas in 'the quest for, and attainment of, ataraxia' is that we've got two different things (so to speak) related to ataraxia, and that they don't have the same preposition. I mean, it is not 'the quest and attainment of ataraxia'. But probably this cannot be considered a grammatical rule.

Thanks,

Sextus
 
  • Papalote

    Senior Member
    Spanish, English, French
    Hi, Sextus

    I'm on a short break here so I do not have time to write a lot, just a comment. Wouldn`t it be easier to read if you wrote: `the search for ataraxia and its attainment`? or would this totally upset the style of your writings?

    Take care,

    P
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I see your problem, and I see that the 10 questions are one question:)

    First comment.
    You are using this concept...
    ... the quest for, and attainment of, ataraxia (or uperturbedness) ...
    ... in many different places. In the examples you give you have used slightly different wording for this concept.
    quest for, and attainment of, ataraxia
    quest for, and the attainment of, ataraxia
    quest for ataraxia and the attainment of ataraxia
    search for, or the attainment of, ataraxia
    search for, and the attainment of, ataraxia
    search for, and attainment of, ataraxia


    I would urge you to be totally consistent. Use exactly the same wording and punctuation throughout - unless you want to create an effect by using a different wording. Elegant variation is an irritation to the reader - why did he write something different this time?

    I would suggest leaving out the commas in the concept wording in each example you have given to see how it reads. Use "... quest for and attainment of ataraxia..." - leaving out "the" and repetition of ataraxia.

    Only if you are convinced that more commas are needed should you pop them back in again:)

    Please take this as a suggestion, not a direction.

    Edit:
    Sorry DAH, I was thinking while you posted.
    Your suggested standard wording would be equally sensible (or more so).
     

    Sextus

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Ok, many thanks. I accept your suggestions. One thing, though: can't I use both "search" and "quest", or should I use only one of them throughout?

    Also, in 1) and 10): wouldn't the deletion of the commas render the sentences a little confusing, given that there is another 'and' besides the one in 'and the attainment of'?

    Sextus
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    For consistency, I would prefer to stick with either search or quest, but I don't that is as important as keeping the rest of the structure the same.
    Interesting you should ask about #1 and #10:)
    You could insert a comma after the concept statement in both of these:
    ... the Pyrrhonist’s quest for and attainment of ataraxia, and his philanthropia ...

    That would clear the confusion.
     

    DAH

    Senior Member
    USA/California--English
    panjandrum said:
    Edit:Sorry DAH, I was thinking while you posted.
    Your suggested standard wording would be equally sensible (or more so).

    Panj: sometimes, I'm a bit terse and too concise (function of time).
    I did mean a "global" fix (phrase) throughout.
     

    DaleC

    Senior Member
    This isn't meant as a scolding: you could avoid ambiguity by not relying on commas and phrase placement to convey a load of distinctions they are unsuited for. Conciseness is less important than clarity.

    (A & B) & C
    or
    A & (B & C).

    To guarantee these alternatives are not confused, you must use words, not commas and phrase placement ({C & (A & B)} instead of {(A & B) & C}) . I think about one third of the volume of philosophical discussion in human history was avoidable, due solely to confusion caused by ambiguous syntax and not by difficult concepts:warn:

    Specifically in the phrase: "quest for, and the attainment of, ataraxia", the commas are more obtrusive than helpful.

    It seems to me very likely that the insistence on always mentioning "the quest" and "the attainment" separately is a driven by sheer argumentational esthetics, unnecessary to the development of the argument. It's almost a chip on the shoulder. Even if quest cannot validly be subsumed under attainment, you can still construct for use in the argument phrases that unite the two, then use the headwords of the phrases.

    And you can relent from adding "of ataxia" every time you mention quest and attainment separately. You should organize the text into sections devoted to ataxia.

    It is also important to employ syntactic devices to dispel ambiguity. I have lots of examples (as usual:D).

    Sextus said:
    Ok, many thanks. I accept your suggestions. One thing, though: can't I use both "search" and "quest", or should I use only one of them throughout?

    Also, in 1) and 10): wouldn't the deletion of the commas render the sentences a little confusing, given that there is another 'and' besides the one in 'and the attainment of'?

    Sextus

    1) "My second purpose is to determine whether the Pyrrhonist’s quest for, and attainment of, ataraxia and his philanthropia are, as has been generally thought, essential aspects of his stance."

    Some options for rewrite
    a. "whether the Pyrrhonist's activity with ataraxia (quest and attainment), along with his philanthropia, are, as has been . . . ."

    b. "to determine/resolve the claim, accepted in large measure of among scholars, that two essential aspects of the Pyrrhonist's stance are his [some nominalized verb] of philanthropia and his commitment to the quest for and attainment of ataraxia"

    In (b), I have used a subordination, a category of syntactic devices, to unite "quest for ataraxia" and "attainment of ataraxia" so to indicate unmistakably that they are to be treated as a complex whole. Subordination can involve noun phrases, clauses, or both. "Commitment", "quest" and "attainment" are all nouns.

    Another general type of syntactic device for disambiguation could be called "varying the parts of speech", which includes the venerable maxim, "use parallel structure". By matching different "parts of speech" (nouns, gerunds or participles, prepositional phrases, etc. to different syntactic levels within a single complex sentence consitutent, we can guarantee lack of ambiguity.
     

    DAH

    Senior Member
    USA/California--English
    Input: 1) My second purpose is to determine whether the Pyrrhonist’s search for and attainment of ataraxia as well as (in addition to) his philanthropia, as generally accepted, are essential aspects of his stance."

    Input: 10) Even if at times the tone and the terminology employed by Sextus seem to point to the contrary, the Skeptic’s search for and attainment of ataraxia and in addition to (as well as) his philanthropic therapy do not commit him to any certain belief.

    Panj, any input?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    DAH said:
    [...]Panj, any input?

    1) My second purpose is to determine whether the Pyrrhonist's search for and attainment of ataraxia, and his philanthropia, are, as generally accepted, essential aspects of his stance.
    This is not a simple sentence, but it is clear. I prefer to put the "are" before "as generally accepted", even though it costs another comma.


    10) Even if the tone and terminology employed by Sextus point to the contrary, the Skeptic's search for and attainment of ataraxia, and his philanthropic therapy, do not commit him to any certain belief.
    That seems OK to me - I can't comment on the need for "certain", but I think you need something before belief:)

    Can you use settle on using one of philanthropia or philanthropic therapy to avoid the variation?
     
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