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Everything in the world dies, but we only know about it as a kind of abstraction... Insects are dying steadily, some by being eaten, some just dropping in their tracks, tons of them around the earth, disintegrating as they die, invisibly.

About 'invisibly', which does it refer to; 'disintegrating (as they die)' or 'die'?

I think it's 'disintegrating'; we don't usually notice or recognize the disintegration. But I'm not sure on this one...
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I see your point Taka. But, on the other hand, the first sentence of the paragraph seems to suggest that what we don't see is dying, since we only know about it thanks to some sort of reflexion or thinking. In the end, I wonder if "invisibly" does not refer to the whole sentence, from "insects" onward.

Sextus
SextusI see your point Taka. But, on the other hand, the first sentence of the paragraph seems to suggest that what we don't see is dying, since we only know about it thanks to some sort of reflexion or thinking.

I see your point too, Sextus. In fact, I initially thought that way. But now I think that we do actually see dead insects sometimes-hence, the dying is not necessarily invisible-but the reason we don't see the dead much is that most of them disintegrate without our knowledge.

That's how I think.
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I'd understand "invisibly" as "unbeknownst to us". They die & disintegrate "invisibly"
So, pieanne, do you agree with me that it refers to 'disintegrate (as they die)'?
I think it refers to the whole process, disintegrate as they die, no ( ) Emotion: smile
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I think it's perfectly possible that "invisibly" refers to "disintegrating". But we must also bear in mind that even if we are able to see an insect dying, we are not able to see all insects dying. Hence, when we say that everything dies, we are just talking from an abstract point of view, based on induction, that is, based upon the cases we have seen.

Sextus
Because of the comma before invisibly, I believe it refers to the preceding phrase ('disintegration as they die'). Disintegration is more 'visible' than 'dying', don't you think? A plant that looks like it's dying, may just be starving for want of water. In such cases, what we see is a disintegration process (which, perhaps, is a phase of dying, but not death itself).
So, in that case, what we don't see is that they disintegrate when they are dying.
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