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A History of Language Philosophies (Studies in the History of the Language Sciences)


A History Of Language Philosophies by Lia Formigari (Studies in the History of the Language Sciences: John Benjamins Publishing) (Hardcover) Formigari is clear from the start that there can be no single perspective in the philosophical study of language. He focuses mainly on two approaches: the study of language as a cognitive tool and the study of its essential phylogenetic components. Language is always reluctant to be trapped exclusively in one domain or the other - the domain of liberty, the domain of necessity; the domain of the historical sciences, the domain of the natural sciences. Every time we isolate one of these domains, we realize we have answered only half the questions posed by theories. This happens if the notion of arbitrariness of signs is privileged at the expense of material, vocal, psychomotor language components, or vice versa; if language is considered exclusively as a product of nature or, on the contrary, of culture; if the role of innate mechanisms is stressed exclusively as opposed to learning, or vice versa.
As a result, Formigari tried to divorce linguistic-cognitive theories as little as possible from discussions on language as a specific instinct of humans as members of the animal world. The subdivision into cognitively-oriented chapters and anthropologically-oriented ones serves a practical purpose only. It helps distinguish different itineraries on the same map, avoiding the risk of getting sidetracked into roundabout routes, crooked alleys, or dead-ends. Cross-references among chapters should be taken as street signs suggesting other possibilities to those interested in following alternative routes or carving their own path.
The approach of a study is determined not solely by theoretical motives, but also, inevitably, by practical constraints. What is not to be found in this book, due to space limitations, is any history of individual language sciences (grammar, for example, or rhetoric). However, Formigari provided information on the great partitions of linguistic knowledge, and references that should help readers to orient themselves, highlighting the intersections of the philosophical study of language with the theory and practice of the language sciences. For reasons of space and competence, this book deals with only one intellectual tradition, the Western one; also, for the Middle Ages, the focus is exclusively on the Latin world...

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Tags: study, language, syntax, philosophy, recently