VII. - Augustine - De Dialectica - Сочинения и рассказы - Философия на vuzlib.su
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VII.

Let us now briefly consider the power of words, insofar as the thing is open to investigation. The power of the word is that by which we know how much it is worth. Its value is the extent to which it is able to move the hearer. It either moves the hearer by itself or by what it means or by both. When it moves him by itself, it either pertains to the sense alone or to art or to both. The sense is moved either by nature or by custom. Nature was violated, if it is offended when someone names King Artaxerxes, or soothed, if it hears Euryalus. For who, hearing nothing else of these men whose names these are, would not notice in the former the great harshness and in the latter the softness? The sense is moved by custom when it is offended if someone is called for the sake of the word (supposition of the grammarians) Motta, and not offended if it hears Cotta. For this does not depend on the sweetness or non-sweetness of the sound, but they affect the innermost parts of the ear when they hear the sounds going through them as guests who are known or unknown. The hearer is moved by art when he attends to a word pronounced to him, as to what part of speech it is, or if he perceives anything which has to do with the discipline which treats of words (grammar). But words are judged by both, i. e. sense and art, since the reason notes that which the ears transmit and gives it a name, e.g. when we say «optimus» (best), as soon as the one long and two short syllables of this adjective strike the ear, the mind by art immediately recognizes a dactylic foot. The word moves our knowledge not only by itself, but by that which it signifies, when, the sign having been agreed upon (Stoic commonplace; or: perceived by the ear), the mind intuits nothing other than the thing itself of which that sign is perceived. For example, when Augustine is named nothing else than I myself am thought (a lovely solecism) by the one to whom I am known, or some other man comes to mind if someone perchance hears this name and doesn»t know me or knows someone else who is named Augustine. For when at the same time the word moves the listener by itself and by that which it means, both that which is enunciated and that which is referred to by it are attended to. Whence is it that the chastity of our ears is not offended when it hears (Sall. Cat. 14) «manu ventre pene bona patria laceverat» (he squandered the goods of his father by hand, belly, penis)? For it would be offended if the obscene part of the body were called by a sordid and vulgar name, since the thing of which both are the vocable is the same, were not the turpitude of the thing signified hidden by the seemliness of the signifying word, for then the ugliness of both would strike the sense as well as the mind. Just like «meretrix» (prostitute), who looks, however, different in that garb with which she is accustomed to stand before the judge and in that in which she lies in her luxurious bedroom. Since the power of words seems to be so manifold, we touch upon it briefly and lightly for the time being. There arises here a twofold sense upon reflection: partly for the explanation of truth, partly for the preservation of seemliness. It does not behove disputation to be inept nor eloquence to be fallacious, but often or almost always slight notice is taken of the delight of the hearer in one desirous of learning, whereas the more inexperienced multitude thinks that that which is said ornately is said truly. Accordingly, though it clear what is proper for each, it is obvious that the disputant, if he wishes at all to please, must use the colors of rhetoric, and the orator, if he wishes to persuade someone of the truth, must be fortified by dialectic, as by bones and sinew, which by nature cannot be subtracted from our bodies for the sake of bodily firmness, lest it be permitted to lie in offense to the eye.





 
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