Brague on the basis of meaning

Brague mentions at the beginning of Au moyen du moyen Âge that our whole theory of meaning rests on a theory of oaths, and those oaths depend on whether we believe in God. He doesn’t elaborate, but one account might be that both atheist and theist societies require oaths, but in the latter they are seen as reduced to a higher, unchangeable reason (whatever else might be true of them) while in the former they can only be enforced by violence. An oath is in turn the paradigm case of fixity of meaning – a word that cannot be retracted, changed, or negated. So far as reasoning is fixity of meaning, reasoning reduces either to a higher reason or to irrational motives like the fear of violence.

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