Language and Experience in Seventeenth-century British Philosophy

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The focus of this volume is the crisis of the traditional view of the relationship between words and things and the emergence of linguistic arbitrarism in 17th-century British philosophy. Different groups of sources are explored: philological and antiquarian writings, pedagogical treatises, debates on the respective merits of the liberal and mechanical arts, essays on cryptography and the art of gestures, polemical pamphlets on university reform, universal language scheme, and philosophical analyses of the conduct of the understanding. In the late 17th-century the philosophy of mind discards both the correspondence of predicamental series to reality and the archetypal metaphysics underpinning it. This is a turning point in semantic theory: language is conceived as the social construction of historical-conventional objects through signs and the study of strategies we use to bridge the gap between the privacy of experience and the publicness of speech emerges as one of the main topics in the philosophy of language.