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His later writings include Commerce and Government , a defense of physiocratic doctrines, and the posthumously published Logic Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge. Etienne Bonnot de Condillac. This work, first published in and offered here in a new translation, is a highly influential work in the history of philosophy of mind and language, and anticipates Wittgenstein's views on language and its relation to mind and thought.

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2002.05.05

Start your review of Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge. Condillac seems to call the soul the human mind or consciousness. The first half of work goes into great details by analysing how the mind evolved with these perceptions, concentrating attention, recognising and remembering images or sensations, creating abstract ideas, comparing, confirming or declining, judge and reason.

The second part of the book goes int conjectures on how first communications may have started. With the instinct of perpetration of human species, families may have grouped making tribes. They soon needed to make sounds and gestures to express the necessities of mutual attraction and survival. Even though Condillac acknowledges that the holy scriptures confirm that God had instructed the first humans about religion and therefore must have given them a language.

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He says that this explanation seems not sufficient for a Philosopher and it would be his duty to explain how this may have come about naturally. The first basic evolution, however, takes up only a small part of his research and conjectures.


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The erudite author relies on Ancient Greek and Roman literature about hymns and odes and songs as well as gestures forming the ancient way of communication. The French language has derived from the Latin language. This subject is what Condillac knows best.

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Evolution of grammar and vocabulary, as well as the style of poetry and prose, are extensively analysed. Philosophers like Locke and Berkeley as well as Hume, Descartes, Leibniz and Kant seem to have influenced our author in his work.


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Condillac lacked the awareness of the immense timescale that human evolution in reality needed. His work also seems to be narrow-minded on the global picture of the evolution.

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Speaking of other ancient civilisations like the Chinese, Egyptian, Persian and South American and their languages. However, this book is interesting to read as a historical sample of the many small steps it took to reach today's picture of humankind. Aug 05, Anthony rated it really liked it Shelves: philosophy-etc. Laura-Cristina rated it liked it Aug 08, Ben Benazzi rated it liked it Jan 11, Clara rated it really liked it Oct 07, Part rated it really liked it Apr 09, John P. Khalil rated it really liked it Mar 31, Alex rated it really liked it Feb 07, Rich rated it liked it Feb 07, Brianna rated it really liked it Oct 18, Hilary rated it liked it Sep 17, Dionysis rated it really liked it Sep 11, BookDB marked it as to-read Aug 27, Webwizart added it Jul 12, Sophie marked it as to-read Feb 20, Nawfal added it Nov 26, Claire added it Apr 19, Lawrence marked it as to-read Aug 19, Pavel marked it as to-read Sep 22, Shane marked it as to-read Feb 08, Elif marked it as to-read Mar 02, Darius Liddell marked it as to-read Mar 06, Bakunin marked it as to-read Mar 17, Abel added it Mar 28, Michael marked it as to-read Apr 25, Steven marked it as to-read May 12, Sanjib Pol marked it as to-read Sep 19,