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Dinneen, F. P. (1961) The linguistic doctrine of Thomas Aquinas and its relevance to modern linguistics. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis compares the traditional logico-philosophic approach to language as found in the writings of Thomas Aquinas, with contemporary scientific linguistics, for the first time. To date, only two authors, P. Manthey and V. Warnach, have dealt with Aquinas' linguistic doctrine in detail. Their works are cited in the bibliography. Neither of these authors is acquainted with scientific linguistics, and neither evaluates or criticizes Aquinas' work. By giving the historical background of the questions about language which Aquinas discussed, and by putting his views into the complex of philosophic, psychological, logical, grammatical and scientific work which was their setting, some of the criteria still implicit in traditional grammar become clearer. By setting out the difference between descriptive and explanatory categories as Aquinas saw it, some of the methodological differences between traditional grammar and scientific linguistics, as well as the possibility of their synthesis, emerge. This study should be of interest to linguists for the following reasons; (a) it is clear that the findings of scientific linguistics are readily assimilable into Aquinas' synthesis; (b) Aquinas' principles supply a justification for the autonomy of linguistic science; (c) Aquinas' position is mid-way between the "God's Truth" and "Hocus-pocus" attitudes toward linguistic description, and (d) a knowledge of Aquinas' work is helpful in clarifying some problems of interest to linguists, such as the status of linguistic abstractions and the treatment of meaning.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:23

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