Universal language

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DA072-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved March 17, 2018, from

Article Summary

Most often associated with attempts to establish an international language such as Esperanto, the idea of a universal language is rooted in the biblical claim of an original language common to all human beings. The idea received its most thorough investigation during the seventeenth century. Drawing on the example of Chinese characters, early schemes involved a system of written signs that would allow communication between speakers of different languages. Later thinkers argued for the importance of an ideal ‘philosophical language’ in which the structure of signs exactly mirrored the structure of reality. While such projects fell short of their authors’ expectations, their influence can be discerned in the formalisms of modern logic and science.

    Citing this article:
    Rutherford, Donald. Universal language, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DA072-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
    Copyright © 1998-2018 Routledge.

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