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Was the Latin Pronoun an Empty Vessel???

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Was the Latin Pronoun an Empty Vessel???

Postby w3lloyd07 » Sun Mar 30, 2008 12:58 am

Hello to all,

I'm new to this list ( today) and in fact, know hardly any Latin yet, though I'm faced with a somewhat complex question, really the main reason I found myself to this list-- that I have been unable to begin to comprehend with the textkit tutorials and learning kits. I realize that I have to start from square one and give the language a sustained focus before I'll be able to consider structural insights. And yet, I have a presentation coming up and I'm resting a large part of my argument on a premise about the Latin Language-- that I can't really answer whollly by myself.

Well, anyway the question is this....
Following Giorgio Agamben's logic in Language and Death, , as he theorizes the negative nature of the language of Western Metaphysics, he cleaves voice into two, in a crucial move that his whle book rests on. He theorizes Voice ( with a capitol V ) as a pre-eminent apriori entity that speaks through The voice ( lower case) and he does this with a resonate wave that leads through the medieval Grammarian's mouth. He argues with regards to a Medieval translation of Aristotle by Thurot ( though he rests his evidence in Priscian and Apollonius Disculus also) that the Medieval Latin pronoun was essentially an empty, pre-eminent vessel waiting to be inhabited, this happening of course through the two Medieval notions of Demonsrtatio and relatio. He quotes Thurot:
" The pronoun is a part of speach that signifies through its mode of being and is specified through some other thing .... whoever hears these pronouns -- I, you, he, or something else -- understands something permanent, but what is understood is neither distinct nor determinate nor under determinate understanding; however, it can be determined and distinguished and specified through some other thing, by means of demonstration." ( Agamben, Giorgio, Language and Death,pp. 21)
He is doing this , of course, to undermine metaphysics and to show its wholly negative foundation, but, beyond the fascinating medieval social implications, the kinds of things that can be discerned about religious motivations and censorship are why I'm trying to figure out if this assersion has any weight to it -- or is it a cherry picked idiosyncrosy Agamben is tailoring to his argumentm, that on a broader scene doesn't have as much validity. So.. Was the Latin pronoun ( translated in Medieval times) a Transcendential , purely, pre-eminant vessel waitng to be inhabited or possessed in relatio or demonstratio ??? That had to be protected from the vulgarities of vernacular translations, because it would bring those who took part in the act too close to God?

Best for now,\
Warren
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Re: Was the Latin Pronoun an Empty Vessel???

Postby annis » Sun Mar 30, 2008 1:30 pm

w3lloyd07 wrote:Following Giorgio Agamben's logic in Language and Death, , as he theorizes the negative nature of the language of Western Metaphysics, he cleaves voice into two, in a crucial move that his whle book rests on. He theorizes Voice ( with a capitol V ) as a pre-eminent apriori entity that speaks through The voice ( lower case) and he does this with a resonate wave that leads through the medieval Grammarian's mouth.


What on earth does this mean? You're asking a question that assumes a significant and frankly obscure theoretical background.

And yet, I have a presentation coming up and I'm resting a large part of my argument on a premise about the Latin Language-- that I can't really answer whollly by myself.


Then I would advise reassessing your argument after you've had more Latin.

In my own opinion anything a modern literary theorist says about grammar should be viewed with the greatest suspicion. The idea that a pronoun can somehow be "inhabited" beyond its role as a device for organizing communication seems a gross misunderstanding of language.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby w3lloyd07 » Sun Mar 30, 2008 3:30 pm

Annis,

"In my own opinion anything a modern literary theorist says about grammar should be viewed with the greatest suspicion. The idea that a pronoun can somehow be "inhabited" beyond its role as a device for organizing communication seems a gross misunderstanding of language."

Exactly why I'm asking this question. I'm particularly thinking here of so-called vernacular visionaries translating Latin, or heretics as their qualified ecclesiastical counterparts called them. From what I've read mediaton between god's Word and the people was a serious proposition. I wondered if Medieaval monks felt they were protecting the priveliged space of God's Word. As if His word could actually be inhabited.

This shouldn't be such a surprising question-- I've looked at your web-page and there you have Hesiod-- who of course you know, was quite INHABITED- by the voices of the muses... and their is a multitude of Literature from that point on that assumes habitation, right on up into Romanticism.

Sorry to have offended you, if that's is in fact what happened. I'm here for cordiality not confrontation.

Best,
warren :?
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Postby annis » Sun Mar 30, 2008 4:27 pm

w3lloyd07 wrote:Sorry to have offended you, if that's is in fact what happened. I'm here for cordiality not confrontation.


I'm not offended, just puzzled. It's not at all clear to me what it means to say that a part of speech is inhabited, or that "Voice ( with a capitol V ) as a pre-eminent apriori entity."
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby w3lloyd07 » Sun Mar 30, 2008 6:40 pm

Annis,

I'll agree with you that the idea of a transcendential Voice with a capital V that potentiates speaking, yet exists universally outside the particular simulaatenously , or anything transcendential for that matter, is hard to wrap ones head around. And that is my point in the end. It may seem like a foreign or strange idea, but it's rooted deeply in Western metaphysics, particularly the phenomonology of Heideggar and Hegel and all sorts of discourse still rests heavily upon language, that in the end, winds up being essentially negative. Its not as easy as just doubting language's ability to be inhabited. The fact remains that people do everywhere feel as if they inhabit THEIR language. Just think of the War going on right now that in so many ways was waged with rhetoric. What you are saying releives all sense of Agency not to mention identity. Where does agency end and habitation begin or vice versa? With the most respect... How would one forge an ethics, with the deconstructive notion of language you put forth?
Cordially,
W
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Postby annis » Sun Mar 30, 2008 9:34 pm

w3lloyd07 wrote:Its not as easy as just doubting language's ability to be inhabited.


I have not made myself clear. I do not doubt language's ability to be inhabited, rather I have no idea at all what the phrase could possibly mean with respect to grammar.

The fact remains that people do everywhere feel as if they inhabit THEIR language.


Do they? I can't say I've ever heard anyone express such a sentiment. Here at least a figural sense readily presents itself, by taking "language" as a metonym for "community," or the like, where notions of habitation are obvious extensions of the idea of living in a building.

With regard to pronouns I still haven't any idea what "inhabit" would mean. How does one recognize whether a pronoun is inhabited or vacant? By what process is a pronoun inhabited or vacated? How on earth does one recognize pre-eminently available metaphysical real estate in a pronoun or indeed in any other grammatical category?
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby thesaurus » Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:44 am

No offense lloyd, but even as an English grad student I'm having a hard time following this conversation. I think you might be presupposing a bit too much theoretical background, particularly in modern critical theory and metaphysics.

But my question would be what is the supposed relevant difference between Latin pronouns and pronouns in English or any other language? What exactly is the difference between relatio and demonstratio? What comes to mind is the difference between 'intensional' and 'extensional' meaning, which regards how the same language can have multiple references, and objects can have multiple referrals. For example, we could both be unwittingly talking about the same person with different names, or thinking we are referring to the same thing when in fact we're just using the same word/symbol. But I still don't understand what the significance is of Latin in this case.
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Postby annis » Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:32 pm

I still don't know what it means for a pronoun to be inhabited, but it just occured to me you should probably read <i>Latin or the Empire of a Sign,</i> by Françoise Waquet. It's an interesting read all around, but her discussions on the relationship between the vernaculars and Latin, and especially protected texts in Latin, seem at least somewhat related to your question.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby Bert » Mon Mar 31, 2008 6:33 pm

I would just have answered; "Good question....I'll have to think about that for a bit".

Everyone would have thought I was incredibly smart (which I'm not) Or they would have seen right through me and figured I was some pompous windbag, (which I don't think I'm either .)
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Postby w3lloyd07 » Wed Apr 02, 2008 3:45 am

Thesaurus,

Yes, with your question about the difference between "intentional" and , I think you said "extensional" language-- I am in most complete agreement accept I mean the relationship between Indicative and Demonsrative... One can't be demonstating ie -Being -- through indication and once one is demonstrative the ability to indicate is lost--- think the 'uncertaintly principle' here only in language. And yes again, to your assumption about the presuppositions attached to my question.. I in no way meant for the discussion to get as far removed as it has. I was in one of those research modes right before a presentation and I was trying to test out a central idea to what I was arguing and with out the entire argument at hand, in retrospect, i can see how, on the one hand, pompous ( as someone has already pointed out) and on the other hand disjunctive-- my question was. The presentation did go great though. The reason I was focusing on Latin as opposed to any other language was because the larger topic of my paper was Medieval Wyclifite Censorship and Circulation. So after all that I'd like now to sit back for awhile and learn from someone elses public humility! But thanks to all for comments and recomendations -- Annis I'll certainly check out your recomendation. And in terms of inhabiting language my concern , really, is coming from reading Medieval Mystic writiers who certainly felt that they inhabited their language and visions and my assertion was coming from the Medieval axiom : " The link between grammar and theology is so strong in medieval thought that the treatment of the problem of the Supreme Being cannot be understood without reference to grammatical categories... theological thought is also grammatical thought, and the God of the theologians is also the God of the grammarians." ( Regulai theologicae of Alain de Lille) Now, if you say, " I still don't know what you mean by inhabiting grammar", I will run for the nearest bridge... :lol: best to all and good night!

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