Universal Languages and Scientific Taxonomy in the Seventeenth Century

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Cambridge University Press, 1982 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 277 pages
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In the seventeenth century, a series of proposals and schemes for an artificial language intended to replace Latin as the international medium of communication gained currency. Fully developed, these schemes consisted of a classification of all known 'things' and a set of self-defining names designed to reflect the divisions of the classification. This attempt to create a specialized and scientific form of language was enthusiastically taken up by a number of eminent scientists of the day, including Bacon, Descartes, Newton and other members of the Royal Society. Dr Slaughter demonstrates that the idea of a universal language was a rational response to the inadequacy of seventeenth-century language, a result of social and cultural changes precipitated by the rise of science, the spread of print and literacy, and the subsequent development of a literate culture. A valuable addition to the study of history and literature, this book also has relevance for contemporary languages with similar problems of development.
  

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Contents

The Aristotelian origins
15
Taxonomy
38
Nomenclature
65
The groundwork
85
Proposals and schemes for a universal language
104
Proposals for a philosophical language
126
Schemes for a philosophical language
141
The culmination aftermath and end
157
The fall of essentialist taxonomy
189
Notes
220
Index
235
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