How would you paraphrase "have sth before sb" in the following sentence?

This elevation is, moreover, essentially rooted in the nature of our spirit, it is necessary to it, and it is this necessity that we have before us in this elevation.

The elevation refers to an abstract philosophical case where the actual though is elevated to a more Godly platform.

  • It's a metaphor: to have X before us means 'to expect X in our future'. The metaphoric image is of "looking forward" towards the future we will travel into, and "seeing" what lies "before us" on that metaphoric Path. – John Lawler May 15 '15 at 19:34
  • So is it trying to say that the necessity is what triggers this elevation? – Reactor4 May 15 '15 at 19:44
  • It hasn't even mentioned whether the "elevation" is real or imaginary; it's another UP/DOWN reference, but it's not clear what it's metaphoric for. It clearly refers to previous context, which is unavailable. Causation is pure speculation at this point. – John Lawler May 15 '15 at 19:47
  • I really should copy/paste it to here but it's all in jpeg format. The object that "we have before us" refers to a kind of necessity, right? I mean it may not be referring to another notion presented before this sentence. It is a Hegelian discourse on proving the existence of God which is rather abstract, in my humble estimation. – Reactor4 May 15 '15 at 19:52
  • It means it's expected. That's all you can say about the future with any truth. Necessity is a different matter, a matter of logical and epistemological definition. If you or some hegelian author chooses to say it's "necessity", ipso facto it is. Sounds like word magic. – John Lawler May 15 '15 at 19:56

"that we have before us" means nothing more than "have" or "see"

It is this necessity that we see in the elevation.

It is this necessity that you see here in the elevation.

It is this necessity that we are discussing the elevation.

It is this necessity in the elevation, which we now come to discuss.

That's all it means. It's Just That Simple. There is utterly no metaphor. Really there is no meaning, it's just a linking term.

Note that OTHER PARTS of the sentence may or may not be a metaphor (or whatever), but "that we have before us" is incredibly straightforward, it's just another way of saying "that we have here" or "that you see".

Here are some examples:

What we have before us, is a very confused piece of writing.

The site you see before us is StackOverflow.

If you see a blue background, what you have before you is a Apple laptop.

What we have before us here is a new invention.

.. and so on.

Really it's that simple.

It's an extremely common phrase and it means nothing more than that.

(Very bad, and also stupid, writers often use it to "sound important", but that's neither here nor there - and you can say that about 50% of phrases in English.)

  • NP. (no problem) Often on this site, we give INCREDIBLY complex answers, in simple questions -- because people assume the questioner is asking something tremendously more subtle than what is actually being asked. Im the worst offender ;-) – Fattie May 16 '15 at 9:26
  • Well then I've been the victim here. :) But thanks again. – Reactor4 May 16 '15 at 11:11
  • heh, oh no, this was nothing. consider english.stackexchange.com/questions/197541/… or english.stackexchange.com/questions/246031/… or – Fattie May 16 '15 at 12:15
  • an incredibly common problem in English writing these days (I mean professional writing - in magazines etc) is that writers, in a sad attempt to be "clever", try to mix a couple of idioms: indeed that's giving the benefit of the doubt - it's usually more like "showing staggering stupidity, writers confuse two or more idioms and mix them up..." Now, in itself, this would merely be a case of "Idiots - that's life eh?" but unfortunately on this site it is quite often the case that intelligent, thoughtful... – Fattie May 16 '15 at 12:17
  • ...intelligent, thoughtful non-native speakers, serious students of English, often ask about these "idiom-typos" (quite rightly). {In the sense of "I'm an English student from Japan. SURELY this headline from the New York Times is just a fuck-up by the writer, correct?"} The chorus of answers from everyone here should simply be "Yes, the writer is stupid beyond comprehension, it is incoherent. Looks like a pointless jumble of unrelated idioms. Crazy huh!?" BUT that does not happen: instead it leads to STUPENDOUSLY long-winded discussions: english.stackexchange.com/a/171913/8286 – Fattie May 16 '15 at 12:21

What we have before us is what we are looking at. If you are in a restaurant, this may be a steak; if in a lecture hall, a page of notes. More generally, what we are considering, which will presumably be an argument.

(It is a commonplace among metaphysicians that at a certain level of abstraction. 'explaining' a concept means replacing a carefully chosen metaphor with a less suitable one. The important thing is to recognize what your metaphors imply.)

  • So does it boil down to saying 'it is the necessity that we are considering in this elevation'? – Reactor4 May 15 '15 at 21:04
  • @Reactor4: Yes, though you might want to read the second paragraph again before 'boiling it down'. – Tim Lymington supports Monica May 15 '15 at 21:28
  • My all intention goes to translating. We do not have a similar saying in Turkish, so as I favor translating Hegel's terms ipso factum, I have to find the most possible synonym of the saying mentioned above. Either I have to say 'expected from in the elevation' or 'we're considering in the elevation'. – Reactor4 May 15 '15 at 21:31
  • @Reactor4: Why, if you want to translate Hegel into Turkish, are you looking at an English translation rather than the German? – Tim Lymington supports Monica May 27 '15 at 22:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.