It is interesting that when we are introduced to books as sources of information in our childhood it does not usually go like that. We are taught to consult books like oracles, and the idea of the author is not much brought to our attention at first. In any case, after a time we come to receive communications in books without anyone introducing them to us, and we are apt to believe—as we put it—what the book says about itself; for example that it was printed by a certain printer.

I know the meaning of "put", and "as we put it". But I want to know where "it" refers to. Does it mean "as we say"? As we say what? That we are apt to believe? But do we say such a thing? Or we may say so? So shouldn't it be "as we may put it"? Moreover, to what does "we" refer? To human beings? Or to we who are discussing here?

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    The passage discusses the meaning of "believe". The bold part refers to the preceding word "believe" in "we are apt to believe". You could read it as "... and we are apt to believe—in the sense we are discussing—what the book says about itself". Dec 24, 2018 at 23:36

1 Answer 1


and we are apt to believe—as we put it—what the book says about itself

My take is that the parenthetical phrase refers to what comes after it, rather than to anything that comes before it.

Consider phrases like these:

With all due respect, I have to disagree.
It is, for lack of a better word, ungracious.
My child is—if you'll forgive the term— a brat.

In each case, the interjection relates to what follows it, not what precedes it.

In this passage, what the book says about itself is a strange turn of phrase for anybody who doesn't use it. Books don't normally talk about themselves. Instead, we interpret what we read and see in them. (In the example given in this case, that it was printed on a certain printer.)

So, the author uses as we put it to mean that what the book says about itself is just a figure of speech that we (people) sometimes use, and not something to be taken literally.


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