Can any one please explain the saying:

"For those that like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like"

Does it mean:

When someone likes some sort of thing, that sort of thing is actually what he or she could or should like? meaning that what you like reflects your personality?

  • 1
    Quite fitting to be inducted into the hall of yogi berries. – Blessed Geek Aug 28 '15 at 5:58

This is a well-known quote from Muriel Spark's novel about a teacher in a private girls school in Scotland, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie:

"For those who like that sort of thing," said Miss Brodie in her best Edinburgh voice, "That is the sort of thing they like."

(The character is talking about the Girl Guides, an organization similar to the Girl Scouts.)

Taken literally, it seems almost tautological: if you like something like this, then you'll like something like this. But the key to understanding the quote is understanding the character, who is an awful snob and convinced of her superior tastes. Miss Brodie is being dismissive (in particular of scouting activities). She's saying that if your tastes are inferior in general, i.e, if you are inclined to like things that are unworthy of serious consideration, then here is an example of something in particular that's unworthy and will thus suit your inferior tastes.

  • Thank you for the explanation. Thus are both "that sort of thing" 's referring to one thing or two different things? For example "if you like cheap art then you like cheap art" or "if you like this painting, then you like cheap art"? – user131336 Aug 28 '15 at 6:56
  • The second "sort of thing" refers to a particular unworthy subject. The first "sort of thing" refers to a general class of unworthy things that the second belongs to. So, if you like cheap art (a class of unworthy things), you'll like this velvet painting of dogs playing poker with Elvis (a particular piece of art in the unworthy class). – deadrat Aug 28 '15 at 7:03

It's almost like saying "you must do whatever you think is best", meaning "I don't agree with what you intend to do". Brodie here is saying that she doesn't approve of (the thing), and as far as she is concerned, only people with no taste would even think of 'liking' the ting; she most definitely would not. I was in the play, myself, many years ago, and the meaning came across very clearly. Typically self-opinionated teacher attitude.

  • I'm not sure this adds anything that the existing answer doesn't already say. – KillingTime Apr 23 '19 at 5:12

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