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The Mirror of Grammar

Theology, philosophy and the Modistae


Much is known about the grammar of the modistae and about its eclipse; this book sets out to trace its rise. In the late eleventh century grammar became an analytical rather than an exegetical discipline under the impetus of the new theology. Under the impetus of Arab learning the ancient sciences were reshaped according to the norms of Aristotle’s Analytics, and developed within a structure of speculative sciences beginning with grammar and culminating in theology. Though the modistae acknowledge Aristotle, Donatus, Priscian and the Arab commentators, their roots also lie in Augustine and Boethius, and they took as much from their scholastic contemporaries as they gave them. This book traces the genesis of a grammar which communicated freely with other speculative sciences, shared their structures and methods, and affirmed its own individuality by defining its object as the causes of language.