Sprachliche Oppositionen und Hierarchien zur Beschreibung der Weltordnung in Corpus Areopagiticum

Nataliya Nikolaeva


Hierarchy and opposition are two fundamental principles of the theology and cosmology of a philosopher known as a descriptor or a magister hierarchiarum in the history of theological science, namely (Pseudo-) Dionysius the Areopagite. Hierarchy and opposition are universal structural relationships between components of a system, including a natural language; they are the most important relationships within linguistic units of a language system: hierarchy represents the principle of the existence of units at different levels, while opposition describes how units at the same level exist. Linguistic oppositions, which should reflect the apparent contradictions of the universe by revealing the truth in the compilation of the members of these opposites, include mainly those of grammatical categories (gender, number, tense forms, subject/predicate opposition). Hierarchy can be used as a kind of vertical opposition; its members do not stand in opposition to each other but are in a relationship of subordination. Among language hierarchies, the following are mentioned: lexical hyperonymes, and the relationship between the derivative and the base word in word-formation, and the system of comparison in the morphology of the adjective. Finally, the structure of the text is taken as a hierarchy at a higher level. Hierarchy and opposition in internal language relations are used by Dionysius the Areopagite to form and underline the idea of the hierarchical structure of the universe. Linguistic hierarchies and oppositions in his works are closely linked to logical ones. These systemic relations are in his discourses, transformed in sort to level their differences: each opposition has a shadow of hierarchy and each hierarchy necessarily contains an opposition.

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