Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Outward SignsThe Powerlessness of External Things in Augustine's Thought$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Phillip Cary

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195336498

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336498.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 01 June 2020

 Before Words Were Signs

 Before Words Were Signs

Semiotics in Greek Philosophy

(p.17) 1 Before Words Were Signs
Outward Signs

Phillip Cary (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

To see what is new about Augustine's theory of signs, it is useful to notice that Greek semiotics was concerned with the epistemology of empirical inference and included no theory of language or expression. This is illustrated in Plato, in Aristotle's On Interpretation (where an Augustinian semiotics is often read into the text anachronistically), in the treatises on physiognomics in the Aristotelian corpus (where bodies are signs of the soul), in the semiotics and theory of language developed by Stoicism, and in the scepticism of Sextus Empiricus. The recurrent problem, emphasized by the more sceptical side in philosophical debates, is that signs are ambiguous whenever they are “common” to more than one thing signified. Augustine's theory of signs resembles Sextus's sceptical concept of “reminding signs,” which are both indispensably useful and epistemically inadequate.

Keywords:   Augustine, Plato, Aristotle, Stoicism, Sextus Empiricus, scepticism, language, signs, physiognomics, soul

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .