Syncategorematica in Husserl and Aristotle

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Presentation Date


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North American Society for Early Phenomenology Annual Conference

Conference Location

Seattle, Washington


In attempting to locate the essence of the syncategorematica, Husserl builds upon the statements made by Aristotle. In the Poetics, Aristotle establishes a hierarchy of the parts of diction, the lowest of which is a letter and the highest of which is speech. The particular syncategorematica to which Husserl refers exist one step above syllables (which are parts of words, as opposed to parts of speech) but below names (which would be considered categorematica). Amongst the syncategorematica are conjunctions and articles, and Aristotle’s theory of them is given in only a few lines of text, which are highly corrupt in comparison to the rest of the corpus. Still, we can see a kind of theory of syncategorematica and their function. In this paper I will point out the correlation between Aristotle’s use of “non-significant” in this context with Husserl’s use of “non-independent meaning”. Both usages negate the concept that the function of language is exclusively referential. Instead, the syncategorematica function as meaningful in the Husserlian sense—as that which intends but requires something else for its completion. While the referent of a categorematic term completes its meaning function, the syncategorematica are concretized in relation to other parts of language and reach completion in a unified act of meaning.


English Language and Literature

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