Sunday, January 6, 2013

Calder on Dee and the search for a "real character"

It is of interest to note the intellectual and historical relation between Dee's approach in the Monas and the search for a real character (Francis Bacon in the Advancement of Learning, called for one which would represent "neither letters nor words but things and notions," and would "serve for an antidote against the curse of the confusion of tongues") and the universal language which occupied so many in the succeeding century - Kircher, Dolgarno Hartleb and through him Boyle, Wilkins (who declared "As men do generally agree in the same Principles of Reason, so do they likewise agree in the same internal Notions or Apprehensions of things") and others, and received in England the attentions and encouragement of the Royal Society (94); Dee's manner of regardig his hieroglyph and its constituent parts approaches in some respects Leibniz' conception of the universal character which underlay, though it has been inevitably overshadowed by his more fruitful vision of a general logical calculus, for this latter implied the possibility of the reduction of all scientific concepts, by analysis, into a small number originally constitutive of them, to be expressed in ideographic symbols, revealing their nature and the operations they allowed of and from which all scientific knowledge might be then deduced

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