Catherine Hobbs

Language and rhetoric in Locke, Condillac, and Vico

Catherine Hobbs [Peaden]

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 1989 pp: 272
  • Advisor: Berlin, James;¬†Lauer, Janice
  • Source: DAI-A 51/02(E)
  • Subjects: Communication and the arts; Language, literature and linguistics; France; Italy; Language; American literature; Communication; Romance literature;
  • ProQuest Document Number: 303813895
  • UMI Number: AAT 9018884


Late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century theories of language, especially language-origins speculations, have been excluded from many histories of rhetoric, although language theory has become central to modern theories of rhetoric. This dissertation follows the dual themes of language and rhetoric in texts by Locke, Condillac, and Vico, figures who illustrate three different approaches to language and rhetoric in the eighteenth century that emerge as important strands of contemporary rhetorical theory. These approaches include views of language as representative of reality, language as expression of private emotions and ideas, and language as socially constructive of reality. Found respectively in Locke, Condillac, and Vico, these language theories are allied with a functional, plain-style view of rhetoric, a belletristic rhetoric, and a social, “epistemic” rhetoric. Timothy Reiss’s model of an “analytico-referential” discursive class and its growth to dominance in the eighteenth century provides a hermeneutic tool with which to probe these conjoined theories of language and rhetoric.