Every Word is a Name: Autonymy and Quotation in Augustine

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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 (that is, the fact that every word has more than one literal meaning) 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595–616
Number of pages22
JournalMind
Volume130
Issue number518
Early online date22-Oct-2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2021

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