Thursday, November 06, 2008

Language quote of the day

The difference between actual things and the words people use to signify them, as explained by a medieval theologian.

The philosopher knows only the significance of words, but the significance of things is far more excellent than that of words, because the latter was established by usage, but Nature dictated the former. ... The unsubstantial word is the sign of man's perceptions; the thing is a resemblance of the divine Idea.

Hugh of St. Victor, from the Didascalicon

A bit of Platonism going on there, but that's no surprise. A lot of old Western thinkers loved that ancient Greek thinker.

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