The Quest for the New Science: Language and Thought in Eighteenth-Century Science

The Quest for the New Science: Language and Thought in Eighteenth-Century Science

The Quest for the New Science: Language and Thought in Eighteenth-Century Science

The Quest for the New Science: Language and Thought in Eighteenth-Century Science

Synopsis

The contributors to this new philosophical and historical examination of Vico, Herder, Schiller, and Goethe are Karl J. Fink (University of Kentucky), James W. Marchand (University of Illinois), Harry Ritter (Western Washington University), K. Michael Seibt (Brigham Young University), and David R. Stevenson (Kearney State College). Their essays and commentary address the question why this generation represented by its great minds suddenly discovered science- a question posed previously but only tentatively explored.

Taken together, the essayists reveal significant new insights into the roles of language, imagination, intuition, empathy, modes of perception, and individualism in scientific creativity and provide important new contributions to the history of arts and sciences.

Excerpt

This volume is the result of a seminar on Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) which was held at the 1977 meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies in Victoria, Canada. the aim of the seminar was to discuss the thoughts of Vico and to relate the seminal ideas found in his Scienza Nuova (1725) to other writings from the eighteenth century. the most obvious place to begin our search for this kind of continuity, it seemed to us, was with late eighteenth-century German writers such as Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803), Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832), and Johann Friedrich Schiller (1759- 1805). These writers were initially chosen for our discussion because their ideas, like Vico's, extended over many subject areas including historiography, science, art, education, culture, language, and philosophy. As the project began to develop, it became clear that all four eighteenth-century writers expressed a concern for the relationship of language and thought in these subject areas.

While Vico, Herder, Goethe, and Schiller were independent thinkers and stand on their individual contributions to the development of human knowledge, they were of interest to us because they shared the view that man is the measure of all things and that the nature and development of knowledge may best be understood through the study of man, his language, and his culture. Thus Vico, Herder, Goethe, and Schiller called into question the mathematically inspired criterion of true knowledge and offered in its place the standards set by the new science of man. the authors of the present volume feel that the complex of ideas expressed by . . .

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