Leibniz and Hegel on Language

  • Daniel J. Cook


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.


German Language Ordinary Language Universal Characteristic Philosophical Paper Alphabetical Language 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    G.W. Leibniz, New Essays Concerning Human Understanding, tr. A.G. Langley (New York: MacMillan, 1896), III, Chapter vii, Paragraph 6, p. 368.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    G.W. Leibniz, Muttersprache und volkische Gesinnung, Vol. I of Deutsche Schriften, ed. W. Schmied-Kowarzik ( Leipzig: Meiner, 1961 ), p. 14.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    G.W.F. Hegel, Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philisophie, III, Vol. XIX of Sämtliche Werke,ed. H. Glockner (Stuttgart: Fr. Frommanns, 1928), p. 476; Lectures on the History of Philosophy, trs. E.S. Haldane & F. Simson (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963), III, 352.Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    K. Rosenkranz, G.W.F. Hegels Leben ( Darmstadt: Wissenchaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1969 ), p. 183.Google Scholar
  5. 12.
    G.W. Leibniz, Philosophical Papers and Letters, tr., ed., with intro. By Leroy Loemkaer (2nd ed. rev.; Dordrecht, Netherlands: D. Reidel, 1970 ), p. 125.Google Scholar
  6. 15.
    P. Wiener, “Notes on Leibniz’s conception of logic and its Historical Context,” Philosophical Review, XLVIII, 6 (1939), 568, n. 4.Google Scholar
  7. 18.
    G.W.F. Hegel, Wissenschaft der Logik I, ed. Lasson (Hamburg: Meiner, 1967), p.10; hegel’s Science of Logic, tr. A.V. miller ( London: Allen &Unwin, 1969 ), p. 32.Google Scholar
  8. 22.
    G.W. Leibniz, Fragmente zur Logik, selected, tr. With notes by Franz Schmidt ( Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1960 ), p. 111.Google Scholar
  9. 25.
    H. Aarsleff, “Leibniz on locke on Language,” American Philosophical Quarterly, I, 3 (1964), 166.Google Scholar
  10. 27.
    J. Hyppolite, Logique et existence: Essay sur la Logique de Hegel ( Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1961 ), p. 61.Google Scholar
  11. 28.
    G.W.F. Hegel, Enzyklopädie der philosophichen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse (1830), eds. F. Nicolin and O. Pöggeler (Hamburg: Meiner, 1959), pp. 369 ff,; Hegel’s philosophy of mind, tr. W. Wallace with Zusätze tr. A.V. Miller (Oxford: Clarendon, 1971), pp. 213 ff.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel J. Cook
    • 1
  1. 1.Brooklyn CollegeCUNYUSA

Personalised recommendations