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Examples

  • What would be missing in such a world is what Tertullian referred to as licentia, that special field of liberty, which allows human beings to exercise their power of moral choice.

    How to Kill a Missionary

  • Claudius follows this with a sophistic argument -- "But you must know your father lost a father" -- which functions as a licentia.

    Modality and Hamlet

  • It's worthwhile distinguishing these two-faced quirks as pressurae though, and treating the base quirks as distinct, because you could have a licentia which says you're allowed to do X and where it is also preferable that you do (as Claudius tries to persuade Hamlet that he may and should stop his mourning now.)

    Modality and Hamlet

  • Conversely, you could have a determina which says it is preferable that you do X where it is also not allowed for you to do otherwise; except that this latter is basically just the definition of a dictum -- i.e. a dictum is essentially a determina with the complementary licentia explicitly denied.

    Modality and Hamlet

  • And once he's established that Hamlet has a licentia to cease his mourning, he plots the next point, from "may not" to "should not," characterising grief that carries on beyond the obligatory period as "impious stubbornness," as "a fault against the dead, a fault to nature."

    Modality and Hamlet

  • Their very agency, in fact, turns on the fact that the modalities of "must" (dictum,) "may" (licentia) and "should" (determina) are not straightforwardly transformable to "will".

    Modality and Hamlet

  • If it helps, the dynamic relationships we have here are very similar to those of the dictum, the licentia and the determina, as I see it.

    Modality and Hamlet

  • With an unspoken licentia cause he can't very well deny Hamlet his right to mourn his own father.

    Modality and Hamlet

  • The gist of Claudius's speech contains an implicit licentia -- that Hamlet may carry on like this if he so chooses -- though it's the complementary determina -- that he really should not -- which is the main thrust.

    Modality and Hamlet

  • On a low level, you can trace the dynamics of transformations -- dictum weakened to determina, determina flipped to licentia, licentia loaded to determina, determina strengthened to dictum -- in dialogue such as that of Claudius.

    Modality and Hamlet

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