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By Dirk J. Struik
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Additional info for Concise History of Mathematics Volume II The Seventeenth Century - The Nineteenth Century
But it was Leibniz who really set the agenda for the group of scholars we’re placing in the Germanic Tradition. In particular, it was Leibniz’s focus on natural languages and the evolution of linguistic communities that drove much of their thinking. This focus feeds into the main conceptual issue behind 1 Introduction 17 Germanic philosophy of language – the relationship between language and expressibility. For Leibniz, language was supposed to be expressive of our rationality, rather than constitutive of it.
For just as if things that are thought of have the attribute of being white, being thought of would be an attribute of white things, so if things that are thought of have the attribute of not being thingsthat-are, not to be thought of will necessarily be an attribute of things-that-are. This is why the claim that if things that are thought of are not things-that-are, what-is is not thought of is sound and preserves the sequence of argument. But things that are thought of (for we must assume this) are not things-that-are, as we will show.
The ﬁrst is their resolute rejection of the scholastics’ formal apparati for conceiving of language, and even of their attitude and 1 Introduction 15 orientation toward language as a formal structure or system. According to Lorenzo Valla (Chap. 19), the scholastics had produced a convoluted, barbarous Latin that needed to be put away in favour of a return to a more beautiful and accurate Classical Latin. The second is they inaugurated the study of language in the vernacular, that is, study of the informal languages we normally speak rather than the formal language of Latin.
Concise History of Mathematics Volume II The Seventeenth Century - The Nineteenth Century by Dirk J. Struik