The Concept of Universal Grammar in the "Hermes" of James Harris, with Special Reference to His Classical Sources

Stavelas, Apostolos N (1996) The Concept of Universal Grammar in the "Hermes" of James Harris, with Special Reference to His Classical Sources. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The overwhelming majority of contemporary works on universal grammar are classified either within the field of linguistics or within that of philosophy, usually in accordance with their author's professional identity and field of study. As a result of the development of scientific thought and of the increasing need for specialisation, in comprehensive subjects such as that of universal grammar, many scientists, when trying to explore their sources, are unable to survey those parameters of the subject which are not part of their special area. Consequently, in works commenting on treatises like Hermes, which combine the philosophical with the linguistic aspect, a great number of passages are either misinterpreted, or simply not commented on. In many cases, the solution preferred by many scholars could be considered as rather unfortunate: a comparative quotation of passages from various authors makes easier a fragmentary and partial preoccupation with the content of their work. In the existent bibliography on Hermes, there are cases where eminent scholars are unaware of the origin of the passage they quote and thus unable to identify its primary sources. Despite the fact that Harris states his sources most of the time, the modem bibliography lacks a work which would elucidate the classical background of Hermes. It is also true that up to now the book's philosophical background has not been commented on; modem research has focussed mainly on the linguistic contribution of Hermes to the eighteenth century study of English language. It is hoped that this thesis will fill that gap. Hermes represents the manner in which the post-Renaissance rationalistic thought incorporated and further developed the medieval realism of the speculative grammarians. But its major importance lies in the fact that Harris avoids relating his work to its medieval predecessors, and associates it with the higher ranked classical sources of ancient times. This thesis will trace this relation of Hermes with its classical background, in order to reveal Harris' comprehensive conception of philosophical patterns which at first sight seem to differ from each other, and to expose his idea of integrity in philosophy. An additional objective of this thesis is to familiarise the reader with the comprehensive eighteenth century notion of universal grammar, a combination of the linguistic with the philosophical field of study. It is also hoped that by this study the reader will become aware of the content of a text-book on universal grammar, and that he will become familiarised with the system of classification of the parts of speech which is suggested. The first part of this thesis focusses on the relation of Hermes to the philosophical and linguistic thought of its time. The second part is employed with the exposition of the grammatical content of the work, while the third treats the philosophical parameters of the subject.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: Alexander Broadie
Keywords: Philosophy, Classical studies
Date of Award: 1996
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1996-74988
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2019 14:45
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2019 14:45

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