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The Hermeneutical Rehabilitation of Supposition Theory in Seventeenth-Century Protestant Logic

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Abstract The paper focuses on some aspects of the early modern aftermath of supposition theory within the framework of the protestant logical tradition. Due to the growing influence of Humanism, supposition theory from the third decade of the sixteenth century was the object of general neglect and contempt. While in the late sixteenth-century a number of standard textbooks of post-Tridentine scholastic logic reintegrated this doctrine, although in a bowdlerized version, it remained for a century out of the scope of Protestant logic. The situation changed when the Strasburg Lutheran theologian J.C. Dannhauer, who in 1630 developed and propagated the program of a new discipline which he called ‘general hermeneutics’ (hermeneutica generalis), accentuating the importance of supposition theory as an indispensable device for the purpose of textual interpretation. Due to Dannhauer’s influence on later developments of hermeneutics, which in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries was regarded as a logical discipline, supposition theory is still present in several logical treatises of the eighteenth century. The explication of the underlying views on the notion of supposition and its logico-semantic function may give at least some clues as to how to answer the question of what supposition theory was all about.

Affiliations: 1: Freie Universität Berlin


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