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Usage of ”自分”/”自身”

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I was discussing philosophy with my Japanese friend and I used the phrase: 「人間を自分から救えるのは死のみである。」 He replied that the ”自分から” part makes no sense. I thought about it for a while, even though the particle that is normally used with 「救う」 is 「から」, the combination 「自分から」 means to do (by)yourself. 「自分からメールを送る」「自分から声を掛ける」 etc.

So, what is the right way to express this type of construction? "Save them from themselves". "Save him from himself". "Save yourself from yourself" etc. I think we can use 自身, right? 「君を君自身から救う」、「彼らを彼ら自身から守る」. Although when I google a construction like ”自身から救う/守る” I get only 70~ hits each. Is it simply rarely used, or is it grammatically incorrect?

Although, I did find an actual 早稲田大学 essay called: 

Title: 「君の友を君自身から守れ」 -エッセイ「友情」と震える主体-
Other Titles: "Guard Your Friend From Yourself" : "Friendship" and Trembling Subject

DSpace at Waseda University: 「君の友を君自身から守れ」 -エッセイ「友情」と震える主体-

I suppose that the literature division wouldn't publish a paper with an ungrammatical title.

Why is 「自身」 usable in this kind of situation and 「自分」 is not? Because 「自分] is a reflexive pronoun?

What about 「自分自身」? F.E.: 「人間を自分自身から救えるのは死のみである。」 Does this make sense (it probably doesn't because 「自分自身」 is an emphasized version of 「自分」 thus also a reflexive pronoun) or should I simply say 「人間を人間自身から救えるのは死のみである。」? Not even sure if the latter is usable as well...
 

Toritoribe

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You didn't try a combination yet; the correct answer 自分を自分自身から救えるのは死のみである. Yes, this expression is rarely used just because the situation "save them from themselves" is rare, in the first place.
 
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I'm interested in this issue as well

Is it grammatically correct to state that "自身" is the equivalent to "sonomono", when used towards living beings??

edit: Thinking a bit, "sonomono" seems to be limited to descriptions...
 
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@Toritoribe

I see. So the examples I stated above (「君を君自身から救う」、「彼らを彼ら自身から守る」) are grammatically and semantically correct? I mean, ”自身” functions the same way with a standard pronoun as with the reflexive ”自分”, right?
What about nouns like 人間 in 「人間を人間自身から救えるのは死のみである。」? Is this semantically valid? What if we abbreviate it to 「人間を人間自身から救える...」? Does it get interpreted as a standalone reflexive pronoun and stops making semantic sense in the same way as "自分” would in this situation? Or is the implication that it is modifying something else (人間 in this case) naturally understood?

@Kraise http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/jn2/96642/m0u/%E8%87%AA%E8%BA%AB/ 

じ‐しん【自身】

他の何ものでもなくそれみずからの意で、他の語に付けてそれを強調する語。そのもの。自体。「彼―の問題だ」「それ―の重さ」


The usage that you are referring to is not limited to living beings.
 
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Toritoribe

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I'm interested in this issue as well

Is it grammatically correct to state that "自身" is the equivalent to "sonomono", when used towards living beings??

edit: Thinking a bit, "sonomono" seems to be limited to descriptions...
そのもの and 自身 are different in meaning (well, at least not always).


@Toritoribe

I see. So the examples I stated above (「君を君自身から救う」、「彼らを彼ら自身から守る」) are grammatically and semantically correct? I mean, ”自身” functions the same way with a standard pronoun as with the reflexive ”自分”, right?
Right.

What about nouns like 人間 in 「人間を人間自身から救えるのは死のみである。」? Is this semantically valid? What if we abbreviate it to 「人間を人間自身から救える...」? Does it get interpreted as a standalone reflexive pronoun and stops making semantic sense in the same way as "自分” would in this situation? Or is the implication that it is modifying something else (人間 in this case) naturally understood?
In that sentence, 人間 is interpreted as a collective noun, not "a person". 人をその人自身から救える can be valid (その人 can't be omitted in this case).
 
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Thanks for everything again.
Yeah, I realize it's a collective noun. I specifically meant to say: "The only thing that can save people from themselves is death." or "The only thing that can save humanity from itself is death." I was trying to refer to "humans" as a species, or a concept.
 

Toritoribe

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Hmm, the combination "人間 and 自身" doesn't seem to work well to me. 人類を人類自体から救うのは死のみである。 would be better.
 
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Oh, right. That makes sense. Since 自体 is used with concepts, categories, organizations etc.

I wonder though, what if one had to translate something with a literary twist like: "The only thing that can save man from man himself is death." Would you still use 人類 ? What about using parentheses to represent a concept and then attaching 自体? Would 「人間」 then work? ”「人間」を「人間」自体から救えるのは死のみである。” Does the literary nuance carry over?


Since someone already asked... Even though ”自身” and ”そのもの” are fundamentally different in meaning they still share one function, right? Both share the meaning of 名詞、形容動詞に付けて強調を表す。

その‐もの【×其の物】
名詞または形容動詞の語幹の下に付けて、上の語の意味を強調する気持ちを表す語。まぎれもなくそのようであること。それ自身。「善人―」「元気―」

じ‐しん【自身】
他の何ものでもなくそれみずからの意で、他の語に付けてそれを強調する語。そのもの。自体。「彼―の問題だ」「それ―の重さ」

According to this, they can be used somewhat synonymously in noun/na-adjective emphasis. Although, it's specifically stated that そのもの is attached to 名詞、形容動詞の語幹. While 自身 isn't limited by that. I tried googling ”彼女そのもの”、”私そのもの” etc. and I still get a fair amount of results (10 times less when compared to the alternative -自身 structures but still). So, in practice, そのもの can be attached to pronouns as well? According to a different dictionary (大辞林) the usage is not limited like that :

そのもの【其の物・其の者】


他のなにものでもなく,まさしくそれ自身。上の語と同格の関係にたち,その語を強める。 「計画-に無理があった」 「まじめ-」
 
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Toritoribe

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そのもの means "true/real" in 善人そのもの, 元気そのもの or まじめそのもの, therefore it can't be replaced with 自身 in this meaning.
e.g.
彼はまさに善人そのもの / 元気そのもの / まじめそのものだ。

君そのもの, 彼そのもの, 彼女そのもの,,, are commonly used. The meaning is different from 自身 in most cases, though.
 
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I was aware of the exclusive "true/real" function. It's just that, looking at the dictionary entries I assumed there were cases when they were interchangeable.
 
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@Tori
Indeed, after thinking about it a bit, I realized an "description-enforcing"(sorry for this) nature in it. Once again from tsubasa for example

友情などを再確認しながら、サッカーそのものの魅力に触れます。

Am I ridiculously mistaken or is it very unlikely() that そのもの will follow the 主語, while 自身 has a more comfortable position for this?
 

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I was aware of the exclusive "true/real" function. It's just that, looking at the dictionary entries I assumed there were cases when they were interchangeable.
それそのものの重さ
それ自身の重さ
それ自体の重さ


@Tori
Indeed, after thinking about it a bit, I realized an "description-enforcing"(sorry for this) nature in it. Once again from tsubasa for example

友情などを再確認しながら、サッカーそのものの魅力に触れます。

Am I ridiculously mistaken or is it very unlikely() that そのもの will follow the 主語, while 自身 has a more comfortable position for this?
そのもの means "true/real" in that case, as I wrote previously. サッカー自体 has the same meaning. (Usually, 自身 is hardly used for inanimate things. It has nothing to do with subject/object.)
 
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I found a few examples of 人間自身 on the web. Many of them refer to the title of a book 「人間自身━考えることに終わりなく」. So I'm wondering if it's the addition of the word から that just makes the whole thing fall apart. 人間自身 seems to be OK in other situations, but I agree there is something strange about the construction 人間を人間自身から救えるのは・・・. Maybe there is something implied in the idiom "saving something from itself" that gets lost in translation. Maybe there is a dissonance between 人間 (being at once singular, plural, and collective) and the reflexive pronoun. Anyway, its an odd construction.

I actually think there is a problem with the central premise of the argument: death is the only thing that will save man from himself. It doesn't sound like much of a rescue. Its a concept that seems to occupy the middle ground between contradiction and tautology. Maybe a topic for another thread. But... if it sounds strange in English, it will inevitably sound strange in Japanese, or whatever language you translate it into.
 
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I'm well aware of it being a strange construction and the dissonance that follows. That's why I'm asking these questions xD

This isn't exactly the place to discuss philosophy, but I don't see how the premise is "a contradiction". Whether it sounds"much of a rescue" or not depends on your definition of "salvation". Once you die you're saved, (or if you like this wording better - released) from your own "humanity". In this case "humanity" being the questioning of your own existence - the pain of awareness, the mortal coil, so to speak. Once again, whether this is something that you think humans need saving from is subjective.

For the record: I'm actually a nihilist. So I think life and death, both, equally have no intrinsic meaning or objective "value". Although, I admit that one of them might be more painful than the other. (Hint: It's probably the one that takes longer xD)
Anyway, I was just baiting my friend a little with the "salvation from oneself" bit. Since he's a self-proclaimed nihilist himself, I thought I'd see whether he construes this as a fallacy within the bounds of nihilism.
 
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