Talk:Characteristica universalis

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De Arte Combinatoria[edit]

There should be a mention to Leibniz's first ideas on this topic, as exposed in De Arte Combinatoria. I may do this when I have the time. Also any other wikipedian might do it... Javirl 16:41, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Leibniz's error[edit]

I have edited out the following comments on the account that the notion of an error by Leibniz, and the notion of "an architectonic structure for human knowledge" is not previously mentioned as part of the Characteristica Universalis in the article, or in Leibniz's writings, but also there is no evidence given for this claim. If evidence can be given then it should be reinstated in the main article. Sholto Maud 04:20, 29 January 2006 (UTC).

"This error may have been a consequence of his belief that human thought could be reduced to a few independent simple concepts (Loemker 1969: 227, fn 6), perhaps akin to the "atoms" of chemistry. Moreover, we are no closer to an architectonic structure for human knowledge and abstract systems than Leibniz was."

I have forgotten where I inserted the passage to which you object. Hence I cannot comment on how it fits in with any wider point I sought to make. I wrote "error" to avoid employing Loemker's much stronger word "delusion." For a man as kind as Loemker was to employ the word "delusion" was to make a very strong statement indeed. As for my last sentence, the point it makes strikes me as utterly obvious. Believe me, it is remarkable how little people employed in different university departments have in common. That Leibniz also intended his characteristica and the like to serve and advance an architectonic structure of human knowledge also strikes me as obvious. That Leibniz could be capable of error also requires no discussion, and is amply attested to by many footnotes in, e.g., Loemker. 19:45, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
That Leibniz also intended his characteristica and the like to serve and advance an architectonic structure of human knowledge is obvious to me too, but I have not seen mention of this in Leibniz's work...I may not have looked hard enough...(I am hesitant about saying anything about the "architectonic" content of Leibniz's works because this is precisely how historians have labelled H.T.Odum's works). This article is getting good, tight citations, so I thought one should follow this trend. Sholto Maud 01:23, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Gödels Conpiracy Theory[edit]

The last sentence is "Even now, most of this huge Nachlass remains unpublished." I honestly believe that sentence does support Gödels conspiracy claims, doesn't it ? Why was is not published ? Does this also mean that Gödel only studied the miniscule fraction of published texts ? This should be a) looked at properly, Gödel was a bright man, perhaps he was on to something b) the sentence should be changed in some way as to show the discrepancy.-- 01:01, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

What is the source of these assertions? Hao Wang's books say that Godel thought there was a conspiracy to hide Leibniz's ideas (and described him trying to prove it to Oscar Morgenstern), but I have never seen information this specific and would very much like to know where it originated. -- 20:20, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

Also have a look at Dawson Jr., J.W., 1997. Logical Dilemmas: The Life and Work of Kurt Gödel. Wellesley, Massachusetts. Sholto Maud 04:26, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Work so far[edit]

To all who have thus far contributed and continue to take an interest, even though there is more to be done, I think it can be said that we have done some good collaborative work in expounding this aspect of Leibniz's philosophy. Well done. :) Sholto Maud 06:37, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Re: Recent projects[edit]

Maybe it would be good to class these into different aspects of Leibniz's approach to spirituatlity, logic, systematic philosophy, physics, etc. This might also clarify further whether the article needs main sections on how the characteristica is related to such aspects, to spell out more clearly how the characteristica was related to Leibniz's metaphysics, religious views and the like. Sholto Maud 10:30, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

Spécieuse générale[edit]

I've changed "specieuse generale" to "spécieuse générale", based on my rather elementary knowledge of French; Googling for "specieuse generale" with the search restricted to French-language pages strongly suggests that this is the correct spelling. Please let me know if I'm wrong about this. -- The Anome 10:47, 13 February 2007 (UTC)


Some of the removed text below may be more relevant to unversal language, IALA and the Gode pages.Sholto Maud 22:32, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

For Zamenhoff, who invented Esperanto, a universal language was a medium of communication that would overcome linguistic barriers through its acceptance by all people. Thus, the functions of both languages were defined first, and then structures were developed to serve those functions.

Gode and the International Auxiliary Language Association (IALA) discarded the notion that interlinguistics was concerned with defining linguistic functions and then providing structural devices to perform them. For Gode and his colleagues, Interlingua was a pre-existing reality, one shaped by natural forces over a period of centuries. The goal of IALA's research was to reflect that reality faithfully, not to construct a new language. Later observers have documented intriguing phenomena that occur with spoken or written Interlingua: people understand it immediately; they learn it in a matter of weeks or even days; and, after learning it, they learn traditional languages more quickly. These functions of Interlingua are outgrowths of its pre-existing, natural structure, not goals for which it was designed. They are, however, taken as evidence for the theory of Interlingua: that the languages of Western civilization may be seen as dialects or variations of a common language, and that their superficial traits can be peeled away to reveal this underlying language. Thus Interlingua, and to a lesser extent the constructed universal languages, were philosophically distinct from the characteristica universalis of Leibnitz. They were simply not intended to fulfill its aims.[1]

Ability of pictograms to unify inquiry[edit]

Nevertheless the views of Gode and Zamenhoff don't seem to take into account Leibniz's emphasis of the ability of pictograms to unify inquiry. As Neurath wrote, "One of our slogans in Vienna was, 'Words divide: Pictures unite.'"

This passage seemed to conflict with the paragraph in which it occurred. I wasn't able to find a place where it fit. Lumturo 18:47, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

The section on metaphysics is very difficult to understand. It's not clear on what basis Gode and Zamenhoff discard the characteristica, or how this relates to metaphysics. The aritcle does not previously mention that the Characteristica has a concern with defining linguistic functions and then providing structural devices to perform them. What is an example of defining linguistic function and then providing a structural device to perform it? I'm not convinced that Gode and Zamenhoff need any mention in the article. Hence I suggest removal of the content relating to Gode and Zamenhoff. Sholto Maud 07:21, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
I agree with you to a point. Gode's basis for dismissing the characteristica could be made clearer in the article. On the other hand, the characteristica is widely viewed as a forerunner of Gode's research and philosophy, and Gode explicitly discussed and then dismissed Leibniz' notion of a "perfect vehicle for thought". So I think a treatment of Gode is important to the article. It seems clear to me from the article that Leibniz defined the function "vehicle for thought" and then devised the characteristica to fill that function. In any case, Gode argues that this is the case, and the writings of Leibniz describe linguistic functions that his characteristica was meant to fill.
Regarding Zamenhoff, my understanding is that he wasn't a philosopher or linguist, so I'm really not sure where he fits in. I tried to keep him because, apparently, someone thought he should be included. Zamenhoff defined linguistic functions and then provided structural devices in an attempt to fill them. At the same time, noted authors such as Gode and Jespersen might be better suited than Zamenhoff to respond to the criticism that modern international languages fail to fulfill Leibniz' vision. Whichever authors are used, it seems impossible to address that criticism without reference to proponents of those languages. Lumturo 01:56, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Before there is a treatment of Gode or Zamenhoff, I suggest a treatment of linguistic function, vehicle for thought and structural device needs to be given.
  • Example of a "linguistic function" & citation for where Leibniz mentions this
  • Example of "vehicle for thought" & citation for where Leibniz mentions this
  • Example of "structural device" & citation for where Leibniz mentions this
  • Example of providing a structural device for linguistic function & citation for where Leibniz mentions this
Sholto Maud 06:57, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
It is already clear from the article that Leibniz intended his language to be a vehicle for thought, and that he conceived of the purposes or functions of the characteristica in advance of the symbols themselves. I've included, below, several passages that demonstrate this, but there are still more. The only things that aren't found there are the exact words, such as "structure" and "function", and this is irrelevant because the ideas are there.
As to excluding Gode and Zamenhoff from the article, I see no reason why stricter standards should be raised for these authors than for others. You don't seem to have provided any reasoning that would support the total exclusion of Gode and Zamenhoff from the article. I've explained the relevance of Gode already, and it seems only fair to also include Zamenhoff. Half of the passage in question is already gone, and the rest was so greatly altered that I wasn't able to recapture it. In my opinion, that's more than enough, considering that no supportive reasoning has really been given. Lumturo 19:19, 14 July 2007 (UTC)
"Leibniz said that his goal was an alphabet of human thought … According to Couturat, 'In May 1676, he once again identified the universal language with the characteristic and dreamed of a language that would also be a calculus—a sort of algebra of thought.' "
"In the domain of science, Leibniz aimed for his characteristica to form maps, diagrams or pictures, depicting any system at any scale, and understood by all regardless of native language. Leibniz wrote:
'And although learned men have long since thought of some kind of language or universal characteristic by which all concepts and things can be put into beautiful order, and with whose help different nations might communicate their thoughts and each read in his own language what another has written in his, yet no one has attempted a language or characteristic which includes at once both the arts of discovery and judgement, that is, one whose signs and characters serve the same purpose that arithmetical signs serve for numbers, and algebraic signs for quantities taken abstractly…' "
"For let the first terms, of the combination of which all others consist, be designated by signs; these signs will be a kind of alphabet. It will be convenient for the signs to be as natural as possible--e.g., for one, a point; for numbers, points; for the relations of one entity with another, lines; for the variation of angles and of extr[e]mities in lines, kinds of relations. If these are correctly and ingeniously established, this universal writing will be as easy as it is common,and will be capable of being read without any dictionary; at the same time, a fundamental knowledge of all things will be obtained. The whole of such a writing will be made of geometrical figures, as it were, and of a kind of pictures -- just as the ancient Egyptians did, and the Chinese do today. Their pictures, however, are not reduced to a fixed alphabet... with the result that a tremendous strain on the memory is necessary, which is the contrary of what we propose."

Section: "His diagrammatic reasoning"[edit]

I don't think this section is notable whatsoever; it is both vague in its relationship to Leibniz's overall philosophy, and it gives the false implication that Leibniz subscribed to an Aristotelian view of matter's composition. I suggest its removal. Fearwig 04:24, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

I oppose its removal on the reason that it is a part of Leibniz's work and related to his CU. Sholto Maud 02:23, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

Recurring concept[edit]

Where exactly does he mention this concept? This information is very important, as it would allow an insight in Leibniz' texts themselves.--Hannesde Correct me! 18:23, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

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  1. ^ Gode, Alexander, The problem of function and structure in Interlingua. Convention of the Modern Language Association of America: Conference on Interlinguistics, New York City, December 1954.