Question Description

I’m working on a philosophy multi-part question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

Sine quibus non is simply the plural for sine qua non, which is itself Latin for an essentialindispensable, or necessary condition.

Strictly speaking, it is that without which a particular thing doesn’t get to be what it’s supposed to be.

For instance,

For a bird, wings are the sine qua non of flying: without wings, a bird can’t fly.

The President’s signature is a sine qua non for a bill to become a law: if the President doesn’t sign the bill, it doesn’t become law.

Never having been married is a sine qua non for being a bachelor: if you’ve been married before, you can no longer be a bachelor.

A mosquito bite is a sine qua non for getting malaria: if you are not bitten by a mosquito (or some equivalent, such as being pricked by an infected needle), you won’t get malaria.


In terms of Love, you might say that maybe Respect is one of its sine quibus non: if you don’t respect your beloved (at least in the Kantian sense), then whatever you feel for them may potentially count as caring, desiring, needing, wanting, lusting after, etc., but that may not be enough to rise to the level of genuine and authentic Love.

In any case, the point here is not really to argue that Respect is a sine qua non of genuine Love (though it is an interesting philosophical question to ponder further), but to illustrate what sine qua non means.

In this poll, simply come up with two lists.

In the first, list your own personal ten sine quibus non that you hope/expect someone interested in you to satisfy in order for you to be willing to seriously consider them as potential romantic partners.

Suppose, for instance that you start using an online dating app. 

In your profile, you might write something like “Must love eighteenth century British literature.”

  • That means that loving eighteenth century British literature is a sine qua non for you; it is a condition that is necessary for someone to satisfy in order for you to even give them a chance at dating you: if they don’t satisfy this condition, you are not interested.

For your second list, identify ten conditions that are absolute deal-breakers. That is, conditions that you find so repugnant (for whatever reason) that no combination of great qualities would be enough to make up for these particular… whatever you want to call them: deficiencies, vices, flaws, etc.

  • Continuing with the online dating app metaphor, you might write in your profile something like “Lefties, swipe left,.”*

* In this example I’m using the word ‘lefties’ only to denote the opposite of right-handedness, and not political leanings (such as being right-wing conservatives or left-wing liberals).

  • In other words, this little profile tidbit indicates that a south paw candidate is someone who fails to satisfy one of the conditions that you think would be indispensable for your potential partner. I don’t know why this could be the case: maybe you’re grossed out by the idea of lefties (and there is a long, historical tradition of considering left-handed people evil… it’s where the word ‘sinister’ comes from); or maybe you yourself are left-handed, and think you and your partner would complement each other better if each had a different dominant hand; etc.

Of course, if you think about it, your unwillingness to even consider a left-handed person would ultimately just mean that being right-handed is a sine qua non for you. It’s just a different way of arriving at the same basic idea as in the first list, but starting from the opposite side of the spectrum: by focusing on those things you find absolutely unacceptable.

  • So, all you need to do here is come up with two lists, of ten traits each:

Ten traits that are absolutely essential, and which must be satisfied.

  • Ten traits that are absolutely unacceptable deal-breakers.

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