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Semantic and Ontological Aspects of Wyclif’s Theory of Supposition

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Abstract The relationship between thought and reality was a focal point of Wyclif’s reflection. On the one hand, Wyclif believed that thought was linguistically constrained by its own nature; on the other hand, he considered thought to be related to reality in its elements and constitution. Hence he deemed language, thought, and external reality to be of the same logical coherence. Within this context, the theory of supposition was intended to explain the different roles that terms can have in relation to language and the extra-mental world when they appear as extremes in propositions. Characteristically, his theory of supposition provides an account not only of the truth-values of a sentence, but also of its meaning; it is not therefore simply a theory of reference, but a sort of complex analysis of language viewed as a semiotic system whose unique interpretative model was reality itself. It gives clear evidence of Wyclif’s realist stance and of his conviction that any kind of linguistic and semantic features must be grounded on ontological structures.

Affiliations: 1: University of Aquila


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