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A reading passage from practice JLPT test

人生というものには、いろいろな問題があります。しかし、それらのことも過ぎ去ってみると、あのときに迷わないでやってほんとうによかったな、というような場合が多いのです。そこが大事なところだと思います。ある場合には迷うこともあるでしょう。しかし、しょせん迷ってもお互い自分の知恵裁量というものは、ほんとうは小さいものです。 だから、「これはもう仕方がない。ここまでできたのだからこれ以上進んで結果がうまくいかなくても、それは運命だ」と度胸を決めてしまう。そうした場合には、案外、困難だと思っていたことがスムーズにいって、むしろ非常によい結果を生む、ということにもなるのではないかと思うのです。

I have difficulty understanding the meaning of お互い自分の知恵裁量 in the bold sentence. What お互い means? Does 知恵裁量 mean "discretion of knowledge"?

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    I have no idea what this お互い means or what it could be a typo for... This is not a type of sentence JLPT test should have...
    – naruto
    Jan 28 at 7:15
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    I don't think 知恵裁量 is a single word or idiomatic phrase. Neither is "discretion of knowledge" in English, which doesn't sounds meaningful to my ear.
    – Eddie Kal
    Jan 28 at 7:18

3 Answers 3

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I believe the author should have written something like this:

しかし、しょせんいくら迷ったところで、自分の知恵や裁量というものは、ほんとうは小さいものです。

However, no matter how deeply you try to think, your own wisdom and discretion is actually small.

  • お互い makes no sense in this context. There is only one person in the first place.
  • There is no such compound or set phrase as 知恵裁量. I think this is just a list of two words which have been somehow joined without any particle.

In reality, you need to deal with half-broken sentences like this, but this one is unsuitable for a test. If you were confused, it only means your Japanese is good enough, so you don't have to worry too much about this.

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Let me put down my own shot at a translation up front. Some expository notes follow.

"There are times, sure, when we think long and hard. But the things is, as long and hard as we may think, the control our minds -- yours as well as mine -- have, it actually amounts to only a small fraction." (Then he goes on to talk about how he thinks embracing a fatalist mindset instead and throwing little human worries out the window can actually lead to desirable results.)

For "お互い", check 精選版日本語大辞典's entry on weblio辞書 (relevant part bolded):

〔名〕 (「お」は接頭語。「たがい(互)」を丁寧にいう語) 同じ関係、状態にある自分と相手両方。また、両方が同じような事をし合うさま。「に」を伴って副詞的にも用いる

As this definition states, "お互い" can be used in reference to two people (the speaker and another person engaged in some way by them) who find themselves in the same situation (do the same thing, have the same quality, etc.) as each other, plus it can be used adverbially by taking on a "に".

(What it doesn't tell you, however, is that the word can be used adverbially without "に" and that the "two people" it refers to don't have to be the speaker themselves (自分) and the their 相手.)

A couple of examples by way of illustration:

お互い大変な一日だったね。 'We both(/each) had a rough day, huh?'

仕事の後はお互いそのまま家に帰りました。'After work, both(/each) of us went straight back home (i.e. went back to respective places of residence).'

In the case at hand, the two people in question are the writer/speaker and the addressee.

As for "知恵裁量" it's not a common idiom, but rather an ad-hoc combination made up of two words, 知恵('wisdom', 'intellect') and 裁量('latitude (= freedom as to, or control over, decision and action)'. The internal relation between the two components is a bit ambiguous, but I wonder if interpreting it as "知恵(が持つ/の)裁量" (as I did in the translation) isn't too far off the mark.

By the way, as I found out through a quick web search, these are words of the late 松下幸之助 himself, the founder of Panasonic, juku for the elite and publishing house as well as being a business guru and author with many best-selling books to his name.

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I believe it means that we can only choose what is within our frame of mind. There may be other, better ideas out there to be had but left to your own devices, you choose what you think is best. I found literally the same passage here of someone also asking what that means. The answer given in Japanese was

知恵と裁量を同時に表した言葉なのでしょう。 人間の能力は限界があって見える範囲が限られている。本人は自分で決めたと言ってもその判断は所詮小さな枠内でのこと。本当は自分では感づいていないもっと違った選択肢があったはずで、それをやっていたら物事は大きく違っていたはずだ。という意味。

Kind of steep even for the JLPT, no? lol

So お互い自分の知恵裁量 would mean that both people or parties experience this same limit of choices based on their respective knowledge.

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  • Thanks for the answer. And お互い自分の知恵裁量 is small? I'm not sure about the rest:「ほんとうは小さいもの」.
    – user483218
    Jan 28 at 8:19
  • The way it seems to me, what ほんとうは小さいもの means is that even though we might have these kinds of limitations on our choices, these things seems trivial (ie, 小さいもの) because in the next couple sentences: だから、「これはもう仕方がない。ここまでできたのだからこれ以上進んで結果がうまくいかなくても、それは運命だ」 と度胸を決めてしまう. How I interpret this is, we're generally happy with the results if they've worked up to that point so we don't feel the need to second guess. If things stop working out, "that's destiny." I could be reaching tbh but I hope this helps Jan 28 at 8:51

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