Symbolic Cognition from Leibniz to the 1760s

Avi Lifschitz

in Language and Enlightenment

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199661664
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191751653 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

Symbolic Cognition from Leibniz to the 1760s

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This chapter explores a synchronic approach to the interrelations between language and mind, as expressed mainly by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Christian Wolff. Leibniz's attempt to rehabilitate the Christian mysteries incorporated an influential distinction: clear and distinct ideas corresponded to intuitive perception, whereas most of the ideas accessible to the human mind were clear but indistinct (or confused). Such ideas could be processed only by means of signs, resulting in symbolic knowledge. From the 1730s to the 1750s, prompted by fears of radical rationalism, Pietists and orthodox authors adopted this rehabilitation of symbolic thinking by means of clear but indistinct ideas. This synthesis was elaborated in contemporary aesthetics, historical studies, and biblical criticism, particularly in Halle and Göttingen.

Keywords: symbolic cognition; Christian mysteries; aesthetics; history; biblical criticism; Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz; Christian Wolff; Siegmumd Jacob Baumgarten; Alexander Baumgartern; Moses Mendelssohn; Johann Salomo Semler

Chapter.  11372 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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