Eco's Serendipities: was Nomothete
|From:||Sally Caves <scaves@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, December 7, 2004, 4:14|
Apparently, Eco uses the word Nomothete again, in his book Serendipities,
which apparently (I haven't looked at it yet) copies a lot of what he wrote
in Search for the Perfect Language. Here's what one reviewer wrote about
it, uncritical, it seems, of Eco's use of the word:
"The second essay - Languages in Paradise - of the five has the greatest
capacity for disagreement. Eco opens by stating that Adam was the Nomothete
yet claims that his use of the name Eve "is evident that we are dealing with
names that are not arbitrary". This effectively contradicts the concept that
Adam was nomothete, as a name-giver ascribes name first and meaning is a
resultant. Either Adam was nomothete or, if he was not, then the names he
gave were intrinsically correct. They cannot be both. A further question
arose in that perhaps we are newly attempting to reach a primal language
rather than return to one - to create, if you wish, a nomothete when we have
a single universal language."
Here's what Muke said:
> Is Eco using the word incorrectly? I've always understood this to mean
> nomos + theticos. Is there any context outside of Eco's use of it here
> where this word means giving the name?
Yes. In Plato's dialogue "Cratylus" it is used it this way.
Perhaps, then, one artisan of names will be good, and another bad?
The name of such an artisan was lawgiver? [nomoqeths]
I seem to remember a detailed discussion in there of how the nomothete,
if a good one, will assign good sounds to the right words, (e.g., "rho",
a flowing sound, will go in words that pertain to fluid motion) but I'm
not sure where exactly it is right now.
But it seems that you're not the only one to think it a mistake, as
apparently "onomatothete" [onomatoqeths] was often written as a correction
of this word.
Thank you, Muke! THANK YOU!
There are a bunch of questions on the Internet asking about the rightness of
Eco's use of this word, and I found a pdf. file exam preparation sheet for a
class on language and philosophy that uses Nomothete as Socrates does above.
Is this from the Loebs classics? Would I be able to find this passage with
a facing page translation of the Greek?