Condillac: Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge / Edition 1

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Condillac's Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge, first published in French in 1746 and offered here in a new translation, represented in its time a radical departure from the dominant conception of the mind as a reservoir of innately given ideas. Descartes had held that knowledge must rest on ideas; Condillac turned this upside down by arguing that speech and words are the origin of mental life and knowledge. His work influenced many later philosophers, and also anticipated Wittgenstein's view of language and its relation to mind and thought.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521585767
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2010
  • Series: Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Hans Aarsleff is Professor of English, Emeritus, Princeton University.
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Table of Contents

List of abbreviations
Further reading
Note on the text and translation
Introduction 3
Pt. I The materials of our knowledge and especially the operations of the soul 9
The materials of our knowledge and the distinction of soul and body 11
Sensations 15
Analysis and generation of the operations of the soul 19
Perception, consciousness, attention, and reminiscence 19
Imagination, contemplation, and memory 27
How the connection of ideas, formed by attention, brings forth imagination, contemplation, and memory 32
The use of signs is the true cause of the progress of imagination, contemplation, and memory 36
Reflection 41
Operations that consist in distinguishing, abstracting, comparing, compounding, and decompounding our ideas 44
Digression on the origin of principles and the operation that consists in analysis 46
Affirming. Denying. Judging. Reasoning. Conceiving. The understanding 51
Defects and advantages of the imagination 54
The source of the charms that imagination gives to truth 61
On reason and on intellect and its different aspects 63
Simple and complex ideas 71
The operation by which we give signs to our ideas 78
Facts that confirm what was proved in the previous chapter 84
Abstractions 92
Some judgments that have been erroneously attributed to the mind, or the solution of a metaphysical problem 101
Pt. II Language and method 111
The origin and progress of language 113
The language of action and that of articulated sounds considered from their point of origin 114
The prosody of the first languages 120
The prosody of the Greek and Latin languages and, en passant, the declamation of the ancients 123
Progress of the art of gesture among the ancients 132
Music 138
Musical and plain declamation compared 146
Which is the most perfect prosody? 148
The origin of poetry 150
Words 156
The same subject continued 167
The signification of words 169
Inversions 173
Writing 178
Origin of the fable, the parable, and the enigma, with some details about the use of figures and metaphors 182
The genius of languages 185
Method 196
The first cause of our errors and the origin of truth 196
The manner of determining ideas or their names 200
The order we ought to follow in the search for truth 208
The order to be followed in the exposition of truth 217
Index 221
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