What does the phrase ‘(fact) qua fact’ mean in English?

Mudassir Ali
May 02, 2020 05:37 PM 0 Answers
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What does the phrase '(fact) qua fact' mean in English?

Mudassir Ali
- May 02, 2020 05:38 PM

Robert Charles Lee has suggested I turn my comment into an answer; here goes:

Lee’s example is of the special case: X qua X. We also should consider examples of X qua Y, where X ≠ Y:

The judge’s ruling was qua parent rather than in keeping with the strict letter of the law.
John’s utterance qua English sentence was not incorrect, but qua idiomatic expression left much to be desired.
Philip Larkin was better loved, qua poet, than John Betjeman, who was loved mainly for his charm.

“Qua” expresses a limiting guise, under the aspect of which a claim is made. Chad Turner’s example is a good one too: you can read Hamlet qua text or qua performable play, and what you glean from each of these readings will be substantially different.

In Lee’s “X qua X” example, “entertainment qua entertainment” just means the same as “entertainment per se”, under its own aspect if you will, so what is being differentiated is not made manifest in any way.

Let me add that contrary to some suppositions, “qua” is neither a connective nor an adverb. It is a preposition that figures in adverbial and adjectival phrases. In the above examples, “qua English sentence” is an adjectival prepositional phrase modifying the noun “utterance”; “qua poet” is an adverbial prepositional phrase modifying “loved”.

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