Aristotle’s Theory of Language: A Problem of (Re)Construction

Cultural History 11 (Supplement):5-17 (2020)
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Abstract

The overall purpose of this paper is to contribute to the debate over a possibility to reconstruct such theories which are not explicitly formulated in the preserved texts of ancient authors. Aristotle is one of those who did not write a single treatise on language, though language – both, as an instrument, as well as an object of the study – was still focal point of his philosophy. In his writings, Aristotle rigorously distinguishes several ways of methodologically examining same phenomenon. He is aware of the fact that every phenomenon can be examined from various perspectives and that different goals of the study lead us towards different answers. Aristotle’s views on language are scattered through his entire oeuvre. The main aim of this paper is to offer and justify a new way of reconstructing Aristotle’s theory of language. In the first part, the paper justifies the very existence of Aristotle’s theory of language and outlines a plan how to proceed with reconstruction of such theory. In the second part, the preliminary plan is situated into the current state of Aristotelian scholarship. Finally, in the third part, the plan of reconstruction is elaborated using an integrationist approach. Integrationism (the idea that our language is a very complex phenomenon which has to be studied from different perspectives and the results of those studies cannot be reduced to each other and cannot be merged into a single atemporal model, instead those results should be understood as an integral part of the very temporal nature of our language) allows me to explain how various different dimensions of language are uncovered in Aristotle’s works and how they gradually arise from each other.

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