Condillac: Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge (Cambridge by Étienne Bonnot de Condillac

By Étienne Bonnot de Condillac

Condillac's Essay at the foundation of Human wisdom, first released in French in 1746 and provided right here in a brand new translation, represented in its time an intensive departure from the dominant perception of the brain as a reservoir of innately given rules. Descartes had held that wisdom needs to relaxation on rules; Condillac grew to become this the other way up via arguing that speech and phrases are the beginning of psychological lifestyles and data. His paintings encouraged many later philosophers, and likewise expected Wittgenstein's view of language and its relation to brain and idea.

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Additional resources for Condillac: Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)

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His soul ®rst has different sensations, such as light, colors, pain, pleasure, motion, rest ± those are his ®rst thoughts. §4 Let us follow him in the moments when he begins to re¯ect on what these sensations occasion in him, and we shall ®nd that he forms ideas of the different operations of his soul, such as perceiving and imagining ± those are his second thoughts. Thus, according to the manner in which external objects affect us, we receive different ideas via the senses, and, further, as we re¯ect on the 11 I Materials of knowledge; operations of the soul operations which the sensations occasion in our soul, we acquire all the ideas which we would not have been able to receive from external objects.

But they also differ in salient ways. Wolff used references to God as grounds of explanation and understanding, and he often likened the workings of nature to clockwork, in contrast to Condillac's preference for organic terms and metaphors. In Wolff there is also no trace of Condillac's evolutionary conception of the origin and progress of language. This last feature may explain why he found that Wolff ``did not know the absolute necessity of signs any more than the manner in which they contribute to the progress of the operations of the mind'' (i, 4, §27).

To say it again, I deal only with the present state. Thus our business is not to view the soul as independent of the body, for its dependence is only too well established, nor as united with a body in a system that differs from the one in which we ®nd ourselves. Our only aim must be to consult experience, and to reason from those facts alone that no one can call in doubt. 14 Section 1 2 Sensations §9 It is evident that the ideas we call sensations are such that we would never have been able to acquire them if we had been deprived of the senses.

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