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I'm translating an old English book that's about philosophy and I came across this paragraph which I have trouble understanding.

If we understand that reason derives abstract units out of concrete multiplicities, that it constructs truth out of phenomena, substance out of attributes, that it perceives all things as parts of a whole, as individuals of some genus, as qualities of some object, then the question regarding a "thing itself," a something which in reality is back of all things, must deeds become irrelevant.

since this book is about philosophy, it has some inherent complexity and it's also old so I encounter some phrases with structures that I'm not familiar with (as a non-native English speaker); like the one here. my major problem is with the phrase "must deeds". I know all of the meanings of these two words, but I can't make sense of them here. Does it mean something like "deeds that are necessary"? or does it mean something like this "all the deeds should become irrelevant"? Unfortunately, I just have a few pages of a PDF file that doesn't entail any source or indication about the name of the book or author. Any help would be appreciated.

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    I think this is spelling mistake for 'must needs'. Is the text handwritten? To me the text says 'If we understand that reason [is x], then the question regarding a "thing itself" ... must needs become irrelevant.' – Mynamite Jul 25 at 18:30
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    My strong suspicion is that a misprint ('must needs') adds to the already ample complexities. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 25 at 18:31
  • @Mynamite No, actually the text and the PDF file seemed so credible and professional that I didn't think of spelling mistakes. But another user found another source for the text, and it seems that 'must need' is the correct phrase, as you said. Thanks for your help. – navid Jul 25 at 19:28
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    Must needs is correct; it's clearly a typo. You're right, the text structure is "old" in the sense that it's unhurried and doesn't mind piling up examples before it gets to the point. In a modern style, it basically means "If we understand these ideas (bullet points) in this way, then those ideas (bullet points) become less important". – John Lawler Jul 25 at 19:36
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A search for the first sentence produced this, The Nature of Human Brain Work. Joseph Dietzgen 1869

https://www.marxists.org/archive/dietzgen/1869/brain-work/ch05.htm

If we understand that reason derives abstract units out of concrete multiplicities, that it constructs truth out of phenomena, substance out of attributes, that it perceives all things as parts of a whole, as individuals of some genus, as qualities of some object, then the question regarding a “thing itself,” a something which in reality is back of all things, must needs [sic] become irrelevant.

  • The PDF file seemed so credible that I didn't even think about typing mistakes and searching the other sources. This helped a lot, thank you. – navid Jul 25 at 19:24
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    I don't know why you need "[sic]" there. It might be slightly archaic, but it's not out-of-the-park wrong. – Andrew Leach Jul 25 at 20:23
  • @AndrewLeach I inserted 'sic' here to indicate that this link displays the text correctly as 'must needs' as opposed to the OP's version 'must deeds'. – Mynamite Jul 25 at 22:24

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