Alphabet of human thought

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The alphabet of human thought is a concept originally proposed by Gottfried Leibniz that provides a universal way to represent and analyze ideas and relationships, no matter how complicated, by breaking down their component pieces. All ideas are compounded from a very small number of simple ideas which can be represented by a unique "real" character.[1][2]

René Descartes suggested that the lexicon of a universal language should consist of primitive elements. The systematic combination of these elements, according to syntactical rules, would generate "an infinity of different words". In the early 18th century, Leibniz outlined his characteristica universalis, an artificial language in which grammatical and logical structure would coincide, which would allow much reasoning to be reduced to calculation. Leibniz acknowledged the work of Ramon Llull, particularly the Ars generalis ultima (1305), as one of the inspirations for this idea. The basic elements of his characteristica would be pictographic characters representing unambiguously a limited number of elementary concepts. Leibniz called the inventory of these concepts "the alphabet of human thought." There are quite a few mentions of the characteristica in Leibniz's writings, but he never set out any details save for a brief outline of some possible sentences in his Dissertation on the Art of Combinations.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Geiger, Richard A.; Rudzka-Ostyn, Brygida, eds. (1993). Conceptualizations and mental processing in language. International Cognitive Linguistics Conference (1 : 1989 : Duisburg). Walter de Gruyter. pp. 25–26. ISBN 978-3-11-012714-0. 
  2. ^ Bunnin, Nicholas; Jiyuan Yu (2004). The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy. Blackwell Publishing. p. 715. ISBN 978-1-4051-0679-5.