А я уже был мужчиной и воспринимал ее примерно так, как воспринимают возвышенное произведение искусства.

The speaker uses the verb "воспринимать" twice, but what effect does it have to switch from 1st singular to 3rd plural like this?

{compared to}: А я уже был мужчиной и воспринимал ее примерно так, как воспринимаю возвышенное произведение искусства.

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    he equates his own perception with the kind of perception customary to general public, i.e. people, that's why the second predicate is in plural – Баян Купи-ка Aug 10 at 10:45
  • instead of plural form of the verb infinitive can be used - так, как воспринимается возвышенное произведение искусства, infinitive too denotes general, usual state of affairs, in this case the clause is not indefinite-personal since its subject is произведение искусства – Баян Купи-ка Aug 11 at 10:34

"... воспринимал ее примерно так, как [люди] воспринимают возвышенное произведение искусства" - in English you would probably use "they", in Russian it is omitted. The effect it has is to make it sound more abstract and impersonate, e. g. in the second part of the sentence you're not talking about yourself, you're not talking about her - you're talking about how people, in general, perceive works of art.

In the second sentence you're still talking specifically about yourself: "... воспринимал её примерно так, как [я] воспринимаю возвышенное произведение искусства". Well, okay, but who knows what's your personal perception of artworks is? Also, I am not sure if this sentence is wrong, but I find it kinda unnatural, I'd rather say "... как воспринимал бы возвышенное произведение искусства." Or maybe put those art works in plural: "... как воспринимаю возвышенные произведения искусства" - don't know why, but it turns it into something more like "как [я обычно] воспринимаю [какое-нибудь] возвышенное произведение искусства."

As for the part in the 3 person plural: it's Indefinite-personal sentence (неопределённо-личное предложение) in Russian. English versions use pronouns or some nouns to express the same sense: as they/people/you (usually) perceive lofty fine arts or as one perceives...

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