[This is a lesson excerpt from our online course, for which we invite you to enroll.]
WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE, THE LSAT TESTS YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF RELATIONSHIPS.
If the relationships in your life are anything like mine, then they are usually difficult, painful, and short. Of course, the LSAT is not concerned with inter-personal romantic relationships. It’s concerned with the very concept of a relationship in the most abstract way.
Let’s consider what relationships are by looking at some examples that we’re all familiar with. Consider the relationship “mother of.” That phrase describes a relationship between, say, you and your mom. Simple enough, right? Let’s try another. How about “earlier than?” Last Saturday night was “earlier than” last Sunday morning. One more? The “greater than” relationship. That’s a relationship between the numbers 10 and 7 or, to use another example, the number of “your mama” jokes possible and the number of “your mama” jokes that are appropriate for an LSAT site.
These examples should illustrate what relationships are. A relationship is something abstract that exists between two or more things. In “mother of” the two things were you and your mother, for “earlier than” the two things were last Saturday and Sunday morning, and in “greater than” the two things were 10 and 7. But “thing” is a such a callous word. I’d get upset if someone called your mother a “thing” – she is a lady and quite a lady, at that! Let’s instead use a less incendiary term: how about “relata?” So, a relationship is something that exists between two relata. Things, people, ideas, events, categories, groups can all be relata.
The two circles represent the two relata, the line represents the relationship. That’s what a relationship is: something abstract that exists between two ideas. I hope by now I’m beating a dead horse, but it’s very important that you see that a relationship cannot exist without its (at least) two relata. It may help you to think of relationships as derivative entities. Derivative in the sense that it derives its existence from that of other entities. The number 7 is one such “primary” entity. Its existence is in no way dependent upon the relationship between it and the number 10. The relationship “greater than,” on the other hand, cannot exist without two relata to give rise to its existence. Capice?
Relationships are important. Relationships cannot exist without its two (or more) relata. Did we mention that relationships are important?
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