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For while the capacity to overcome all opposing sensible impulses can and must be simply presupposed in man on account of his freedom, yet this capacity as strength is something he must acquire. (Kant, Metaphysics of Morals, p. 397)

for {conjunction} {literary} = Because; since

yet {conjunction} = But at the same time; but nevertheless

Did I correctly identify the grammatical categories and definitions? If so, are these conjunctions used rightly? I can't pinpoint why; so please help me discover why, but it sounds wrong to write:
Because while ..., but nevertheless ...?

Footnote: I don't know which English translation was used by Dr Mark D White, who authored the webpage on which I encountered this quote. Yet I realise that the transation may be old; so it would feature olden (pun intended) grammar.

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    The use of the yet is grammatically unnecessary and old-fashioned (as you guess), but not wrong. After such a lengthy main clause, the yet actually aids understanding here. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 27 '15 at 20:26
  • There is no major structural difference between the translated wording from Kant and Polonius's famous observation in Hamlet: "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't." The main visible difference is the inclusion of for (in the sense of "because") at the beginning of the Kant quotation. But only contextual non-necessity prevented Shakespeare from using a similar for in his sentence; he would have had no grammatical reason to balk at it. – Sven Yargs Feb 23 '16 at 8:27
  • Agree with Edwin Ashworth and Sven. The use of yet also adds a nice cadence when speaking creating dramatic effect. – K Dog Oct 20 '16 at 16:44
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Since for serves only to connect the sentence to the previous one, which you have omitted, we can forget about it. I would, however, note that for is not entirely synonymous with because, only similar; the former is a coordinating conjunction, the latter a subordinating conjunction. It's there merely to say 'everything that comes after me is the rationale for the previous statement'. Where it would've been used in the past, we usually omit it.

If we ignore for, then while is the only conjunction in the sentence. You might replace it with though, although, or whereas.

Yet, on the other hand, is here used as a conjunctive adverb, not a conjunction, and it is paired with while. You might replace it with nonetheless, nevertheless, even so, or omit it altogether. In this instance, it is not synonymous with but and is closer in meaning to at the same time. The writer probably chose to include it to emphasize the oppositional nature of the two clauses.

So, a more modern rendition of the sentence might be:

Although the capacity to overcome all opposing sensible impulses can and must be simply presupposed in man on account of his freedom, this capacity as strength is something he must acquire.

  • Also, yes, the sentence is totally grammatical, just odd by modern tastes. – Anonym Mar 27 '15 at 20:43

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