Models of language and mankind in the milieu of the ‘Idéologues’

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In late 18th century Paris, the possibility of a scientific language in the humanities was a very frequently discussed subject. The circle of the so-called Ideologues who had an enormous influence both philosophically and institutionally, wanted to develop the theory of signs beyond the sensualism of Condillac. Within this purpose, the academic prize contest about the influence of the signs on the thoughts by the Institut National des Sciences et des Arts was tendered in 1797 and awarded in 1799. The topics of different models of language and mankind are two of the most frequent arguments in the essays sent to the contest. In the following article, a selection of eight out of 23 manuscripts will be sketched focusing mainly on their divergent points of view on language as an analytical method and on the role of mathematics as a model of scientific language.


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