Talk:Cratylism

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Roland Barthes's "Proust et les noms"[edit]

I was reading an essay of Paul de Man's entitled "The Resistance to Theory" and he quotes an essay by Roland Barthes that uses the term Cratylism.

We would also wish to insist on the Cratylism of the name (and of the sign) in Proust... Proust sees the relationship between signifier and signified as motivated, the one copying the other and representing in its material form the signified essence of the thing (and not the thing itself)

I'm reading Paul de Man's essay from Philip Rice and Patricia Waugh, ed. (2001). Modern literary theory : a reader (4 ed.). London [u.a.]: Arnold. pp. 272 – 289. ISBN 9780340761915. , although it originally appeared in Yale French Studies. de Man then goes on to say,

To the extent that Cratylism assumes a convergence of the phenomenal aspects of language, as sound, with its signifying function as referent, it is an aesthetically oriented conception.

Also, here's a quote from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

The positions of Hermogenes and Cratylus have come to be known to modern scholarship as ‘conventionalism’ and ‘naturalism’ respectively. An extreme linguistic conventionalist like Hermogenes holds that nothing but local or national convention determines which words are used to designate which objects. The same names could have been attached to quite different objects, and the same objects given quite different names, so long as the users of the language were party to the convention. Cratylus, as an extreme linguistic naturalist, holds that names cannot be arbitrarily chosen in the way that conventionalism describes or advocates, because names belong naturally to their specific objects. If you try to speak of something with any name other than its natural name, you are simply failing to refer to it at all. For example, he has told Hermogenes to the latter's intense annoyance, Hermogenes is not actually his name.

So, it really looks like Cratylism is essentially about the view that words have a natural, rather than arbitrary, relationship with the ideas they refer to. This article is clearly in need of some development, and so I hope some of this information helps in its progress. When I have a little more time, I'll make some improvements my self. Ender and Peter 00:18, 6 February 2012 (UTC)