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Winter 2000, pages 29-46

The Love of Invention: Augustine, Davidson, and the Discourse of Unifying Belief

Abstract: Postmodernism typically questions metaphysical foundations and then assumes that because no common ground beyond linguistic and cultural codes can be discovered, discursive agreement is necessarily contingent. Questioning the efficacy of such codes, causal theories erase the distinction between words and the worlds, and so invent strategies to direct interlocutors' attention toward causal conditions they can share rather than find codes they already share. A comparison of two proponents of causal meaning, St. Augustine and Donald Davidson, reveals a common set of logical and attitudinal constraints to interpretive understanding that rejects linguistic and cultural incommensurability and therefore inventive contingency.

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