I'm trying to read a short story whose theme (I think?) is that in order to have self-awareness other people are necessary. Like, they act as abstract mirrors to view oneself (or something...). So, I totally do not understand the usage of "おる" in the following sentence:


So, I roughly diagram the sentence:

(おらず) being all by yourself, it is from the existence of other people that one begins to have self-recognition.

ok. So, "おる" is the humble form of "いる".

<1> While I am almost sure you cannot say "いず" for "居る", you can say "おらず" for "おる"?
<2> What is the meaning of that "おらず"? How do you translate the entire sentence?
<3> This is an objective philosophical essay. Why are honorifics used at all?

thank you.

  • 1
    Why do you think you can't say いず? And おる is sometimes used simply to sound loftier than いる.
    – Angelos
    Aug 29, 2015 at 19:11
  • I think "いず" has 3 steps: (1) to exist, (2) to not exist, (3) to begin existing again. That doesn't make sense. But, I'm sure "いず" is correct grammar.
    – kairua
    Aug 29, 2015 at 20:27
  • いず is basically a more formal way to say いなくて or いないで. I'm not sure what you mean by those steps.
    – Angelos
    Aug 29, 2015 at 21:36
  • 1
    @Nothingatall What I was trying to say, and still sort of believe: "飛ばずに" means (1) it must have the potential to fly, (2) when it "飛ばずに" it commits to not flying, but only for a period of time, (3) after the "飛ばずに" period is over, it once again has the potential to fly. "飛ばなくて" has no sense of a time period. But.... I'm very wrong because my understanding does not allow for the idea of "いず".
    – kairua
    Aug 29, 2015 at 22:12
  • 1
    I can't find a source, but I don't think there's any humbleness implied by おる here; I think it's just used because おらず is a nicer form than いず. Along these same lines, I've also seen ~ており used as the 連用形 of ~ている.
    – Axe
    Aug 31, 2015 at 18:34

1 Answer 1


<1> Yes, いず does not sound natural in this context.
<2> 立ってはおらず has the same meaning as 立っているのではなくて
<3> It does sound more formal, but the nuance does not really change.

I would loosely translate it like this:

It's not that you are alone; a sense of self-awareness first comes from being surrounded by others.

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