Why was Leibniz so deeply interested in signs and language? What role does this interest play in his philosophical system? In the essays here collected, Marcello Dascal attempts to tackle these questions from different angles. They bring to light aspects of Leibniz's work on these and related issues which have been so far neglected. As a rule they take as their starting point Leibniz's early writings (some unpublished, some only available in Latin) on characters and cognition, on definition, on truth, on memory, on grammar, on the specific problems of religious discourse, and so on. An effort has been made to relate the views expressed in these writings both to Leibniz' more mature views, and to the conceptions prevailing in his time, as well as in preceding and following periods. The common thread running through all the essays is to what extent language and signs, in their most varied forms, are related to cognitive processes, according to Leibniz and his contemporaries.
1. A manuscript of Leibniz on the use of characters; 2. Foreword; 3. 1. Language and money: a simile and its meaning in 17th century philosophy of language; 4. 2. Leibniz, Hobbes, Locke and Descartes on signs, memory and reasoning; 5. 3. Signs and thought in Leibniz's Paris Notes; 6. 4. Leibniz's early views on definitions; 7. 5. On knowing truths of reason; 8. 6. Reason and the mysteries of faith: Leibniz on the meaning of religious discourse; 9. 7. About the idea of a generative grammar in Leibniz; 10. Appendix: Leibniz's texts on language, signs and thought; 11. 1. On the demonstration of primary propositions (1671/2); 12. 2. The analysis of languages (1678); 13. 3. A geometric characteristic (1679); 14. 4. Verbal characteristic (1680, approximately); 15. 5. Thought, signs, and the foundations of logic (after 1684); 16. 6. On the connection between words and things (undated); 17. Bibliography; 18. Index