The Philosophical Foundations of Humboldt's Linguistic by Martin L. Manchester

By Martin L. Manchester

Wilhelm von Humboldt’s writings on language are a mix of philosophical theorizing approximately brain and language at the one hand, and however, really expert stories of the main distinctive type of either the classical languages and languages which in simple terms in Humboldt’s day have been changing into recognized to eu students, resembling Sanskrit, chinese language, and local north and south American languages. This e-book endeavors to teach that Humboldt’s paintings on language is a coherent approach of concept; to recapture and divulge the systematic constitution of assumption, speculation, argument and end; and to assign a few of the particular subject matters in his writing to a spot inside of this constitution.

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This classifica­ tion follows Leibniz in many respects,17 but also owes a surprising amount to Locke. The discovery of 'concepts of mixed origin', 'idées mixtes', is attributed to Locke (GS VII: 373), and, like Locke, Humboldt divides simple concepts (einfache Begriffe) into two areas, those of sense and those of understanding (GS VII: 377-78). In general these notes show us a classical ration­ alist education in philosophy, oriented primarily to­ wards Descartes and Leibniz but well aware of recent developments in empiricist and even French 'sensualist' trends.

Humboldt's letters to Jacobi over the next several years often allude to his on-going study of Kant. They also indicate a dissatis­ faction with a purely abstract or conceptual approach to philosophy, which is typical of Humboldt throughout his life. "23 He op­ poses to this approach the need 'to view the objects themselves in their full life and truth'24 and suggests to Jacobi the following position: How is truth to be distinguished from illu­ sion (Täuschung)? I believe through no oth­ er means than by continuously turning the object about and regarding it again from new sides.

GS V: 3 2 3 ) , or that language plays a necessary role in the 'formation of thought': ... (GS V: 3 7 4 ) 3 9 The claim, in brief, is that 'thinking' requires language, that language is a necessary condition for the occurrence of thinking. It is clear that such a claim is not based upon empirical investigation of languages. It is not an inductive claim which makes appeal to many particular instances wherein thinking requires lan­ guage. Rather it is a deductive claim, based upon a theory about what thinking and language are in general, such that language is a necessary condition for thinking.

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