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Source: Official Guide Revised GRE 1st Ed. Part 4; Set 5; #6


Philosophy, unlike most other subjects, does not try

Philosophy, unlike most other subjects, does not try to extend our knowledge by discovering new information about the world. Instead it tries to deepen our understanding through (i) what is already closest to us—the experiences, thoughts, concepts, and activities that make up our lives but that ordinarily escape our notice precisely because they are so familiar. Philosophy begins by finding (ii)the things that are (iii). Blank (i): attainment of, rumination on, detachment from Blank (ii): essentially irrelevant, utterly mysterious, thoroughly commonplace Blank (iii): most prosaic, somewhat hackneyed, refreshingly novel

3 Explanations


mohammed abushamleh

I always thought that hackneyed and prosaic are synonyms, because that what most dictionaries suggest! does the answer here depend on "most" and "somewhat"?

Jan 28, 2019 • Comment


Hey Mohammed!
Dictionary definitions can indeed be misleading. When looking at definitions, it's helpful to look at many example sentences as well to see how the words are used. will include these examples.

While they can be used interchangeably in some instances, the word "hackneyed" is strongly negative, while "prosaic" is a neutral word. Further, yes, "most" fits much better here than "somewhat," as philosophy is focusing on the extremely familiar things, not just the things that are kind of familiar.
Hope that helps!

Feb 2, 2019 • Reply


Ananth Naryan

Why doesn't hackneyed work for this?

Nov 9, 2016 • Comment

Cydney Seigerman, Magoosh Tutor

Hi Ananth :)

Happy to help! As Chris mentions in the explanation, "hackneyed" has a negative connotation that doesn't really fit the sentence. Something that is hackneyed is repeated too often or overused. On the other hand, for the blank, we want a more neutral word that means unoriginal or commonplace. "Prosaic" best fits this context :)

Hope this helps!

Nov 13, 2016 • Reply


Chris Lele

Oct 6, 2012 • Comment


Hello thanks for the explanation. I still have a little problem with the last sentence. What does the last sentence "Philosophy begins by finding (ii)_____ the things that are (iii)____." mean? more precisely "by finding interesting the things." How can mundane things be mysterious?

Mar 17, 2018 • Reply

Sam Kinsman

Hi Mohammed,

The first two sentences tell us that philosophy tries to examine things that are simple and commonplace, and uses insightful observations about these things to extend our knowledge. So in this sense, philosophy makes things that are commonplace interesting.

Notice that the last blank does not strictly mean "mundane." The word "prosaic" means "commonplace, unromantic." So the last sentence is saying that philosophy begins by finding interesting the things that are commonplace.

I hope this helps! :)

Mar 21, 2018 • Reply

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