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The following excerpt is from an article of Harry Frankfurt who is a professor from Princeton University:

Especially by pretentious word or deed: There are two points to notice here. First, Black identifies humbug not only as a category of speech but as a category of action as well; it may be accomplished either by words or by deeds. Second, his use of the qualifier “especially” indicates that Black does not regardpretentiousness as an essential or wholly indispensable characteristic of humbug. Undoubtedly, much humbug is pretentious. So far as concerns bullshit, moreover, "pretentious bullshit” is close to being a stock phrase. But I am inclined to think that when bullshit is pretentious, this happens because pretentiousness is its motive rather than a constitutive element of its essence.

  • I know that "so far as something is concerned" is an idiom which means " in considering something". But what does "so far as concerns bullshit" mean? Is it the same as "so far as bullshit is concerned" which means "in considering bullshit"?

  • I am not sure what "this" in bold refers to. Is it "when bullshit is pretentious"?

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Frankfurt is a philosopher. And the book is a good one. But he does write like a philosopher, and that means there are any number of strange constructions and permutations thereof. It's all part of the game. The this you refer to is a reference to the clause "bullshit is pretentious". – John Lawler Mar 5 '12 at 4:04
@JohnLawler, thank you for pointing that out. – Jack Mar 5 '12 at 4:13
@JohnLawler, Do you mean that the answer to the first question is "yes"? – Jack Mar 5 '12 at 4:23
Yes. But it's a highly-marked, very formal, and consciously archaic construction (essentially the unpassive of "as far as .. is concerned"), and nobody would ever say it, except maybe in a philosophy lecture. – John Lawler Mar 5 '12 at 16:31
up vote 1 down vote accepted

My first thought was that the construction "so far as concerns X" was simply ungrammatical, and that it should be "so far as X is concerned". But as this chart shows, it's just fallen out of favour...

enter image description here

It's hard to find single-word X's that occur often enough to track usage change over time, but the 43 actual instances of "so far as concerns spirit" seem to be mostly C19, whereas 44 instances of "so far as spirit is concerned" are mostly C20. But there's no difference in meaning involved.

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It may have to do with this. – tchrist Mar 9 '13 at 16:13

For the first question, I think "concern" is of the following meaning in Merriam Webster Dictionary:

intransitive senses , obsolete : to be of importance : MATTER

since no object for the word "concern" is found here.

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