The abandonment of nómos in Greek linguistic thought
Coseriu (1977) has contended that Aristotle’s abandonment of the term nómos as the counterpart to phýsis represented a clear and willful break from the earlier tradition of linguistic thought. The present article examines a semantic change that nómos (originally “custom”) was undergoing in 5th century Attic Greek, when it became the technical term for a statute law. This change rendered it no longer appropriate in considerations of language. Hence, even if Aristotle had wanted to maintain the term nómos in its late Sophistic sense, he could not have done so. The Aristotelian approach to language may thus maintain a greater continuity with the past than is often recognized. The history of the terms which came to replace nómos as the opposite of phýsis is also surveyed.
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