Leibniz and Hegel on Language
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No two classical German philosophers have occupied themselves more with the problem of “teaching philosophy to speak German” than Leibniz and Hegel. Both, throughout their lives, and their writings, were also preoccupied with the broader problem of developing an adequate linguistic idiom in general (German or otherwise) for expressing philosophical truth. In Leibniz’s case, these two endeavors, though motivated by the same search for universal truth and clarity which animates all his thinking, tend to diverge; he not only treats them as separate problems, but writes about them in separate works, in different languages and styles. His discussions about the need for the Germans to develop their own intellectual language are often written in German and have an exhortatory and homiletic style. On the other hand, his discussions on the need for philosophy in general to develop an adequate, universal language and symbolism are usually written in Latin or French, the international languages of the time, and have an intramural and erudite quality. This divergence in style and substance is understandable, given the nature of the respective problems and the different audiences to whom he was addressing himself.
KeywordsGerman Language Ordinary Language Universal Characteristic Philosophical Paper Alphabetical Language
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