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From Epicurus to EpictetusStudies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy$
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A. A. Long

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199279128

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199279128.001.0001

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Stoic Psychology and the Elucidation of Language

Stoic Psychology and the Elucidation of Language

(p.236) 12 Stoic Psychology and the Elucidation of Language
From Epicurus to Epictetus

A. A. Long (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Stoics were enormously influential on the Graeco-Roman grammatical tradition, which extends from the later Hellenistic epoch into the Christian period of the Roman Empire. Recourse to the Stoic influence on that tradition can give the impression that these philosophers were merely pioneers in starting what the grammarians carried forward more fully and systematically. It is argued that such an impression may be seriously misleading in two respects. First, it incorrectly implies that the Stoics approached language as a phenomenon callingprimarilyfor the kind of grammatical and syntactical description later grammarians developed. Secondly, it fails to identify the philosophical considerations that underpin the Stoics' principal interests in language. It is shown that the Stoics had some splendid intuitions about the phonetic, grammatical, and semantic levels of linguistic structure. Although these bear directly on the development of traditional grammar, they also seem to have clear affinities with what modern experts in linguistics call universal grammar.

Keywords:   Stoicism, grammar, rationalist psychology, linguistics

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