Filozofski Vestnik 34 (3):57-74 (2013)

Gregor Kroupa
University of Ljubljana
"Language and its Public Features: Reorganizing the Trivium in Locke's Essay and Port-Royal Logic" The new theory of language in the 17th century coincides with the end the traditional order of disciplines in the trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric), which in the mediaeval times provided a comprehensive view of the problems of discourse. The article focuses on some key passages in Port-Royal Logic and Locke's Essay that provide us with a typical early modern scheme of linguistic representation, characterised by heavily emphasized dualism of ideas and words. Since ideas are also the meanings of words and are ontologically essentially private, one can raise the question, where in this analysis of language is it even possible to locate its public features. The article tries to show that private language is not only possible for Locke and the Port-Royalists, but that it is even a necessary and primary character of language. Language becomes a public medium of communication only on the junctures of private meanings constituted by the “common use” of words. The article then focuses on almost complete marginalisation in the two works of the theory of public speech. Rhetoric, in the 17th century often reduced to mere eloquence, has no place in philosophy, and the duties of making speeches persuasive are taken over by reason alone. To show how the domains of jurisdiction of the trivial disciplines had been transformed in the linguistic theories proposed by the Port-Royal Logic and Locke, one can construct a hypothetical early modern trivium in the light of the following order: idea – word – figure, or, logic – grammar – rhetoric. Rhetoric is found to have kept its structural place only to be singled out as dangerous.
Keywords liberal arts (trivium)  rhetoric and philosophy  eloquence  John Locke  Port-Royal  private language
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