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From a speech by Steve Jobs:

a. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking.

If the sentence is to work syntactically, dogma has to be the antecedent of which.

Dogma is defined in LEXICO as:

A principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.

He believes that when living in a certain society you should become a real part of it by sticking to its rules, dogmas and principles.

So, dogma essentially is a set of principles determined by (i.e., results of) other people's thinking. Also, from the LEXICO example, sticking to its dogma seems to correspond to living with the results of other people's thinking.

All in all, dogma itself seems to refer to "the results of other people's thinking" rather than "living with the results of other people's thinking".

If so, how come the antecedent of which can be dogma? Or should it be?

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  • I would take it as referencing "dogma". Often the determination of antecedents must be a little flexible.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 17:07
  • 1
    Yes it is. If you adhere to dogma you are living with the results of other people's thinking.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 0:54
  • Don't be trapped by dogma.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 1:05
  • It wasn't intended to be funny.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 1:53
  • If you're trapped by dogma you've allowed yourself to be seduced into living with the results of other people's thinking (without questioning it). It's the seduced without questioning part that is being "trapped", not the dogma per se.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 2:54

1 Answer 1

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Supplementary relatives allow wide range of antecedents, including clauses. (CaGEL p1035):

Pat is afraid of snakes, which doesn’t surprise me at all

The antecedent of the relativised element in the example given is:

Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking.

So he's saying that being trapped by dogma is living with the results of other people's thinking.

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  • In your example, which refers to the finite clause Pat is afraid of snakes. In (a), however, you're saying that which refers to the non-finite clause be trapped by dogma.
    – listeneva
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 6:17
  • That's also my reading. So the question is whether the relative which can take (be) trapped by dogma as subject of the relative clause. AFAIK, the relative which can take a non-finite VP only if which functions as complement of an auxiliary verb or to in the relative clause, as in: You shouldn't be trapped by dogma, which I once was. (complement of the auxiliary was); You shouldn't be trapped by dogma, which I wouldn't want anyone to. (complement of to).
    – listeneva
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 6:46
  • I don't see why the antecedent clause would be limited to a finite one. There are plenty of examples which could only be interpreted similarly to this this one. E.g. Works had to be transcribed by hand, which was a slow and laborious operation where non-finite transcribed by hand or be transcribed by hand is clearly the antecedent.
    – DW256
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 7:40
  • Another example: A clever advertising video, it has the potential to be seen by millions, which could result in a large increase in profits
    – DW256
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 7:44
  • You're right. Thanks.
    – listeneva
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 11:40

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