Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 46 (4):573 - 584 (1984)

The scientific ideals of the Enlightenment are intimately tied up to the elaboration of a philosophical grammar and a lexicon of rigorously defined primitive terms. The present study offers an analysis of the linguistic articles in the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Alembert, which deal with the scientific description of the foundations of 'la communication des idées'. The central concept in the description of the universal principles regulating the transposition of thoughts into word-combinations, is the word, corresponding to an idea (which by abstraction is derived from sensuous impressions). The articles on language (and linguistic categories) in the Encyclopédie not only reflect a philosophical stand with regard to the problem of the relation between language and thought ; they also show why language is central in the acquisition, the communication and diffusion of knowledge
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