Do we always use “more” to compare two things?

Do we always use “more” to compare two things?

Among the various and conflicting interpretations of Aristophanes’
works, there is a general admiration for the
poet’s seemingly boundless imaginative power and his
habit of allowing the creative human spirit to triumph over
all constraints of reality. Critics and scholars across the
centuries have equated Aristophanes with the best of the
Old Comedy, ignoring other representatives of this particular
art, such as Cratinus or Eupolis, partly because only
Aristophanes’ comedies have survived in complete form.
Aristophanes’ fame eventually waned after his death,
but he quickly became central to the Western literary
canon. Among the early authors who wrote commentaries
on Aristophanes were Photius, the erudite patriarch
of Constantinople, and John Tzetzes, the noted encyclopedist.
Plato’s attitude toward the comic poet was more
ambivalent
, but this was probably because of Aristophanes’
devastating portrayal of Socrates in The Clouds.

Source: GALE CONTEXTUAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORLD LITERATURE

Does this context compare Plato with other people who criticize Aristophans?
Or does “more” here just come to emphasis and means very?

Which paraphrase is better?

  • 1: Plato’s attitude toward the comic poet was more
    ambivalent than other.

or

  • 2: Plato’s attitude toward the comic poet was very
    ambivalent.
    ??

Source: GALE CONTEXTUAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORLD LITERATURE

Answer

Offhand I can’t think of any contexts where more doesn’t carry strong (but perhaps implicit rather than explicit) connotations of “comparison” (with something / someone else that’s less).

Unquestionably, the cited example states how ambivalent Plato was by comparison with Photius and John Tzetzes. But all it says is Plato was more ambivalent than them – he might still not be very ambivalent (by comparison with others).


But it’s worth pointing out that although I think the comparative form more always carries the “literal” sense of to a greater degree than something else, this isn’t the case with the superlative form most. For example,…

1: Thank you! You’ve been most kind
2: When I lost my job, the bank manager was most helpful
3: Your son is a most promising pupil

In all those cases, it makes more sense to understand most as meaning very, with no particular allusion to “more than any other”.


EDIT:
Taking account of points raised in comments, I’d say that in and of itself, more carries no particular implications of very – it’s purely a “relative comparative”. As I understand it, I can truthfully say Light travels more slowly through water than through air. But that certainly doesn’t imply light travels very slowly through water!

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : Viser Hashemi , Answer Author : FumbleFingers

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