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I came across a peculiar sentence structure today:

Rather do we do A; but B.

I think this is an archaic grammatica structure. What is the meaning of the above structure?

The full phrase is given below:

[We must not evade darkness.] Rather do we freely acknowledge that what remains after the entire abolition of will is for all those who are still full of will certainly nothing; but, conversely, world, which is so real, with all its suns and milky ways—is nothing.

(I also don't understand how the italicized part fits into the sentence. Any help will be greatly appreciated!)

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The text is from a translation of Schopenhauer. There are commas after "is" and "will", and you have omitted some words. From the translation at bartleby.com:

Rather do we freely acknowledge that what remains after the entire abolition of will is, for all those who are still full of will, certainly nothing; but, conversely, to those in whom the will has turned and has denied itself, this our world, which is so real, with all its suns and Milky Ways — is nothing.

The phrase "for all those who are still full of will" is parenthetical.

I'd paraphrase "Rather do we" as "Rather, we" or "On the contrary, we".

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  • Thank you, I read this from Russell's History of Western Philosophy but for some reason the comma is missing there. I undertstand how 'certainly nothing' fits in. Then does the sentence roughly mean: 'If we abolish will, what remains is nothing. If conversely, the will denies itself, the universe is nothing.'?
    – Dimen
    Aug 6 at 6:55
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    This is inversion after an adverb/ial. Nowadays, this is usually limited to negative adverbials (Seldom had he felt so happy / Never would it be bettered / Hardly had he spoken ... / No sooner had he left ... / ...). 'Rather' is an antiparallel statement connector (like 'on the contrary'), so has a negative pull. But archaic/literary usage allows inversion after almost all adverbials (though 'on the contrary' seems an exception): ('Simbelmynë. Ever has it grown on the tombs of my forebears.' Theoden; LOTR). Aug 6 at 11:12

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