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古代ギリシャの哲学が、すでに自由市民に委ねられた真理の探究という、純粋に知的な営為だったのであり、その伝統の先端に科学も存在したからである->委ねられた人は誰? I wonder is it means greece philosophy was entrusted to/by public (?)

この雑誌は多くの人に購読されています This magazine is read by many people. 多くの人に=the one with に attached always become the subject right and its mean by..

And how to translate this sentence easily like should i start from the last word?

Philosophy of the ancient Greece only pure intellectual conduct that was called as the research of truth that entrusted to freeman. Is it true(?)

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I would read it as "entrusted to freemen".

古代ギリシャの哲学が、すでに自由市民に委ねられた真理の探究という、純粋に知的な営為だったのであり・・・

I read it this way:

  • 古代ギリシャの哲学が、 --> "Philosophy in ancient Greece" (subject)
  • すでに --> already (modifies 営為だった)
  • 自由市民に委ねられた --> "entrusted to freemen" (relative clause modifying 真理の探求という、純粋に知的な営為)
  • 真理の探究という、 --> "which was the pursuit of truth" (relative clause modifying 純粋に知的な営為)
  • 純粋に知的な営為だった --> "was a purely intellectual activity" (predicate)

I don't know how to translate this to natural English but I think it's saying something like:

"Philosophy in ancient Greece was already a purely intellectual activity, which was the pursuit of truth, entrusted to freemen (≂ exclusively performed by freemen.)"

  • すでに自由市民に委ねられた真理の探究という -> so i think the problem is in the passive -> the research for the truth was left/ entrusted to freemen(?) so maybe i should guess is it means "to"or "by" based on the context of the sentence(?) – Devina Muljono Sep 1 '16 at 7:38
  • Yeah... unfortunately you usually should guess from the context... But I think with some verbs, like (人)に委ねられる, 託される etc., the に tends to mean "to", and with some verbs, like (人)に言われる, 命令される, 頼まれる etc., it tends to mean "by"... (but not always, of course) – Chocolate Sep 1 '16 at 8:07
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に in passive sentences do not always correspond to "by" in English passive sentences. In your example about 雑誌, 多くの人に simply means "by many people". But some verbs already take に in active sentences, for example AをBに渡す ("give A to B"), AをBに紹介する ("introduce A to B"), AをBに委ねる ("entrust A to B"). When these sentences are converted to passive sentences, some ambiguity may happen. See this question: How to use 紹介される?

自由人に委ねられる may mean either "entrusted to freemen" or "entrusted by freemen", but in this sentence, it means "entrusted to freemen". By who? In fact, this 委ねる (="delegate", "entrust") is actually done by no one; no people (nor gods) explicitly told freemen to think about philosophy. In a sense, it's the old Greek society itself that "entrusted" freemen to engage in philosophy. In other words, by saying 自由人に委ねられる ("entrusted to freemen"), the author is implying that people widely believed that thinking about philosophy was a freemen's "job" in the ancient Greek society.

To take another example,

19世紀、写真は金持ちのみに許された道楽であった。

This sentence roughly means "In the 19th century, photography was something only rich people could enjoy". Note that this sentence does not mean someone explicitly gave them permission to take photos. It was the mere fact that rich people have much money that "allowed" them to enjoy photography.

  • Thankyou so much!! I think its really depends on the context of the sentence but sometimes its a bit confusing too because when i dont know who is the subject and object can lead into confusion that resulted not knowing the core of the paragraph – Devina Muljono Sep 3 '16 at 12:32
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Rather than "entrust", I think that a translation that fits better 委ねる in this case is "to devote oneself".

I think that you are quite there with your translation. Maybe would sound a bit better in this way:

In ancient Greece, philosophy, that is the research for the truth to which freemen devoted themselves, was purely an intellectual occupation [...].

It is true that 委ねられた is passive in this case, but I think that if instead you render that in English in an active way (preserving the original meaning of course) it sounds better and easier to understand. After all, you can say "I wear a t-shirt" and "the t-shirt is worn by me". Grammar (subject etc) is obviously different but the meaning is the same.

About how to translate, I think that that's the most interesting question here.

I will try to explain how I do. And please notice that this is just my way, not necessarily the best.

So, personally I always try to identify subject and verb first (maybe including some simple adjectives), and leave everything that is "color" for later.

In this case for example I look at: (古代ギリシャの)哲学が and then at 知的な営為だった.

So my first translation is: Philosophy (in ancient Greece), was an intellectual occupation.

Fine, makes sense so far. Then I add adverbs and other simple things. So I would look at it like: 古代ギリシャの哲学が、純粋に知的な営為だった.

Ok, so it was a purely intellectual business.

Finally I look at all that comes in the middle (that sometimes in Japanese is a lot, and very easily misleading).

So I take 自由市民に委ねられた真理の探究という. At this point I already identified that the main topic is philosophy. So I guess that that という is describing how we are defining philosophy in ancient Greece. 真理の探究 comes before という so we are talking of philosophy as the research of the truth.

There is only 自由市民に委ねられた left out, and at this point this obviously is there to explain who is involved (devoted/entrusted) with the research of the truth: the freemen.

After I broke everything down this way I look back at it and see if it makes sense as a whole using the following order:

  1. 哲学が

  2. 哲学が知的な営為だった...

  3. 古代ギリシャの哲学が粋に知的な営為だった

Then look at what I called "the colors" above, trying to put them in a way that makes understanding easier. For example:

4*. 哲学という真理の探究が、

5*. 哲学という自由市民に委ねられた真理の探究が,

And finally put all together. At this point the translation should follow naturally and it's a matter of picking the right words (for example for 委ねる)

  1. 古代ギリシャの哲学が, 自由市民に委ねられた真理の探究という, 純粋に知的な営為だった.

...Now it would be very funny if after all this trouble it turns out that my translation is wrong! :D

EDIT: I think there was no すでに at the time of my answer. Maybe that comes from a later edit in the question. Anyway, it doesn't really change much everything I said above.

  • Thank you so much for the step by step method, afterwards i will use this method!!! So i think everytime you want to translate something, you should link the first part and the last part(?) and find the subject of the sentence, you have to differentiate what is the important part and what is the "colour part". 古代ギリシャの哲学が、すでに,自由市民に委ねられた真理の探究という、純粋に知的な営為だったのであり、その伝統の先端に科学も存在したからである (i post the whole sentence with addition) -> in ancient greece, – Devina Muljono Sep 1 '16 at 7:29
  • philosophy(subject), the fact is that the researcher of the truth that was entrusted to freemen, was purely intellectual working, and it leads to the discovery of science – Devina Muljono Sep 1 '16 at 7:29
  • Well, it's not a general rule the first/last thing but it often works I guess. More importantly think of it as identifying the main subject/verb first and think of all the rest later. – Tommy Sep 1 '16 at 7:54

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