Every Word is a Name: Autonymy and Quotation in Augustine

Mind 130 (518):595-616 (2021)
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Abstract

Augustine famously claims every word is a name. Some readers take Augustine to thereby maintain a purely referentialist semantic account according to which every word is a referential expression whose meaning is its extension. Other readers think that Augustine is no referentialist and is merely claiming that every word has some meaning. In this paper, I clarify Augustine’s arguments to the effect that every word is a name and argue that ‘every word is a name’ amounts to the claim that for any word, there exist tokens of that word which are autonymous nouns. Augustine takes this to be the result of universal lexical ambiguity or equivocity and I clarify how Augustine’s account of metalinguistic discourse, which is one of the most detailed to have survived from antiquity, differs from some ancient and modern theories.

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Tamer Nawar
University of Groningen

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