Representationalism and the Linguistic Question in Early Modern Philosophy

Frontiers of Philosophy in China 3 (4):595 - 606 (2008)
The view of language is greatly changed from early modern philosophy to later modern philosophy and to postmodern philosophy. The linguistic question in early modern philosophy, which is characterized by rationalism and empiricism, is discussed in this paper. Linguistic phenomena are not at the center of philosophical reflections in early modern philosophy. The subject of consciousness is at the center of the philosophy, which makes language serve purely as an instrument for representing thoughts. Locke, Leibniz and Descartes consider language from a representationalist point of view. To them, language itself is idealized and represents thought as if it were thought representing itself. Like the structural linguist Saussure, the founders of phenomenology and analytical philosophy give much attention to the logical or static structure of language, and stick up for the representationalism of early modern philosophy. However, their successors refuse to accept this attitude, meaning the final collapse of representationalism. /// 从早期现代哲学到后期现代哲学再到后现代哲学,在语言观上产生了重大的 变化。早期现代哲学以唯理论和经验论为典型形式。语言现象没有成为该时期哲学 反思的中心问题; 意识主体处于哲学的中心,这使得语言仅仅充当着表象思想的工 具。洛克、莱布尼茨和笛卡尔都从表象论的角度看待语言,在他们那里,语言本身 被观念化了,它们表象思想,就像思想在表象它自身。正像结构语言学家索绪尔一 样,现象学和分析哲学的创始人关注的都是语言的逻辑结构或静态结构,他们延续 了早期现代哲学的表象论,但他们的后继者拒绝接受这种态度,而这意味着最终突 破表象论。.
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