What's the meaning of:

I verb not object 1 the less, but object 2 more.


I love not man the less, but Nature more..

I've searched Google about the meaning of it, but unfortunately didn't find a solution. Could someone guide me how to search for such unknown meanings and reach them on my own?!

  • What do you think it means? What does it mean to you if you break it into two sentences, then shuffle the "not" slightly: "I do not love man less. I love nature more." – Hot Licks Mar 22 '15 at 21:23
  • @HotLicks "I do not love man less", less than what? – Omar Mar 22 '15 at 21:29
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    Less than what the amount of love was before (whatever comes right before your sentence), or than what the other party is expecting/assuming it to be. To paraphrase a bit more: “[Saying something about nature being superior to mankind] does not mean that my love for mankind is diminished; only that my love for nature is increased”. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 22 '15 at 21:37
  • @JanusBahsJacquet it made the meaning clear now. Thanks a lot! – Omar Mar 22 '15 at 21:40
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    It's both a double negative (not, less) and a double comparative; it's archaic poetic language (i.e, nobody talks that way, ever, any more); and nobody will understand it if you say it or write it, either, because it's too bloody obscure. Even if you try to remember it, it's practically impossible to remember what it's really sposta mean. – John Lawler Mar 22 '15 at 22:28

In hopes of getting this question off the Unanswered Questions queue, I offer this discussion of the example sentence,

I love not man the less, but Nature more.

The statement in the example sentence can arise only in a situation where the speaker's love has undergone a change. But has the speaker's love remained at a constant level overall, with the amounts devoted to its various component subcategories altered, or has the total quantity of the speaker's love increased, with the allocations to all or some of the component subcategories increased as a result? That's what we need to determine from the speaker's statement.

For ease of description, let's call the speaker's love for man M, the speaker's love for Nature N, and the speaker's total love T; and for simplicity, let's suppose that the totality of the speaker's love consists entirely of the combined amounts of those two component subcategories—man and Nature. Then we can describe the speaker's total quantity of love before things changed as T1, the speaker's love for man at that time as M1, and the speaker's love for Nature at that time as N1. That gives us this simple equation for the person's total love in the earlier time period:

T1 = M1 + N1

More recently, however, things have changed. And what we want to know is, how have the values of T, M, and N changed? We know that T2, M2, and N2 will still look like this:

T2 = M2 + N2

but we don't know which of those values has changed. One possibility is that the total amount of love has remained constant:

T1 = T2

but changes in M and N have occurred, increasing one at the expense of the other. That possibility appears to be the one that the speaker in the example sentence is denying. According to the speaker, the speaker's love of man is not less than it was previously, which means that it is either the same as before or greater than before:

M1 ≤ M2

but at the same time the speaker's love for Nature has definitely increased:

N1 < N2

From these two relations it necessarily follows that the speaker's total amount of love has increased, as well:

T1 < T2

since increasing N while either holding M constant or increasing it by some indeterminate amount must yield a larger T than before.

Transforming these notions back into words, we see that the construction "I love not man the less, but Nature more" can be rephrased as

I love man at least as much as I did in the past, but I love Nature more than I did in the past.

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