The focus of this volume is the crisis of the traditional view of the relationship between words and things and the emergence of linguistic arbitrarism in 17th-century British philosophy. Different groups of sources are explored: philological and antiquarian writings, pedagogical treatises, debates on the respective merits of the liberal and mechanical arts, essays on cryptography and the art of gestures, polemical pamphlets on university reform, universal language scheme, and philosophical analyses of the conduct of the understanding. In the late 17th-century the philosophy of mind discards both the correspondence of predicamental series to reality and the archetypal metaphysics underpinning it. This is a turning point in semantic theory: language is conceived as the social construction of historical-conventional objects through signs and the study of strategies we use to bridge the gap between the privacy of experience and the publicness of speech emerges as one of the main topics in the philosophy of language.
1. Acknowledgements; 2. 0. Introduction; 3. Francis Bacon and the Renaissance Linguistic Tradition; 4. 1.0 Language and the languages; 5. 1.1 The language of nature; 6. 1.2 The filiation of languages; 7. 1.3 The foundations of grammar: language and reason's 'strict copulation'; 8. 2.0 The reconstruction of linguistic unity; 9. 2.1 Communication and the reform of learning; 10. 2.2 Artificial vs. natural language; 11. 2.3 Towards a 'Lexicon exemplare'; 12. 3.0 Semiotics and the theory of knowledge; 13. 3.1 Semantics vs. metaphysics; 14. 3.2 Semiotic logic and the theory of meaning; 15. 3.3 Language and the 'way of ideas'; 16. Concluding remarks; 17. Bibliography; 18. A. Primary sources; 19. B. Secondary sources; 20. Index of names; 21. Index of subjects