Penuria nominum and language rectitudo. Linguistic economy in Saint Anselm of Canterbury

Studia Anselmiana 20 (179):211-222 (2019)
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Abstract

The topics of language and dialectic argumentation have a pivotal role in Anselm’s thought. They constitute the theoretical context in which we proceeded with a semantic analysis of the term paupertas; it should be understood under a thought where logical-linguistic terms (appellatio, cogitatio vocum e rerum, significatio) are related to ethical and social principles as monastic silence and rectitudo, in particular. Indeed, Anselmian idea of poverty moves on the ridge between the paupertas as penuria nominum, typical of the human language merely capable of producing voces for the usus loquendi, and the Divine Word (Verbum), a “poor” word, where “poor” means unique, simple, pure and real. The Verbum will be, at the same time, a linguistic and ethical model for the human language to avoid the multiloquium and to properly connect words and things. Reduced to a line that directly moves from the word to his corresponding thing, the linguistic signification thins all his redundant references and becomes right, that is simple. This kind of language aims at the monastic silence of chapter six of the Regula Sancti Benedicti as his higher and very true form. So, the paupertas has to be intended, in the Anselmian philosophy of language, as a value against the mundane poverty of spirit, in the broader context of the Salvation of the soul’s economy.

Author Profiles

Riccardo Fedriga
Università degli Studi di Bologna

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