Summary of doctoral thesis: My thesis reconstructs the philosophy of language presented in Augustine’s De Dialectica fragment (388 C.E.) through a close reading of the entire text. Previously the text has primarily been used doxographically in work on Stoic philosophy, but this approach overlooks fundamental discrepancies between De Dialectica and other Stoic testimony. My analysis brings in other comparanda – Augustine’s platonic, rhetorical, and patristic sources, and especially his own writings on language in other texts – to show the ways in which De Dialectica makes innovative contributions to the development of semantics. The first part of the thesis contrasts earlier Greek and Latin formulations of dialectic with Augustine’s definition of dialectic as a science of language. The centrality of language, and particularly individual words (verba simplicia) to dialectic raises three questions which underpin the rest of the text: if dialectic deals in words, but in a different way to grammar, rhetoric, and other language-focused subjects, what constitutes a word; what does the analysis of a word accomplish for dialectic; what role does a word play in grasping truth (dialectic’s main objective)? The second part of the thesis addresses these questions by analyzing the theories advanced in De Dialectica about a word’s four stages (word as grammatical item; word as signifying utterance; word as concept signified; word as external referent) and four components (origin; meaning/valence; ambiguity/polysemeity; morphology/part of speech).
Other research interests: Chinese philosophy; Korean philosophy; comparative philosophy; philosophy of education; feminist philosophy; philosophy of language; public philosophy.