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  • Cited by 1
  • Lodi Nauta, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
July 2021
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Book description

Which language should philosophers use: technical or common language? In a book as important for intellectual historians as it is for philosophers, Lodi Nauta addresses a vital question which still has resonance today: is the discipline of philosophy assisted or disadvantaged by employing a special vocabulary? By the Middle Ages philosophy had become a highly technical discipline, with its own lexicon and methods. The Renaissance humanist critique of this specialised language has been dismissed as philosophically superficial, but the author demonstrates that it makes a crucial point: it is through the misuse of language that philosophical problems arise. He charts the influence of this critique on early modern philosophers, including Hobbes and Locke, and shows how it led to the downfall of medieval Aristotelianism and the gradual democratization of language and knowledge. His book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the transition from medieval to modern philosophy.


‘Nauta is among the most distinguished historians of philosophy today. His study breaks new ground by concentrating on a vital issue in the early modern rivalry between humanism and scholasticism which still has great resonance in modern academe: the advantages and disadvantages that accrue to philosophy, or any professionalized study, from employing a special technical vocabulary to discuss philosophical problems.'

James Hankins - Harvard University

‘This book is a great and inspiring tour d'horizon into philosophical reflection on the use of language – and, consequently, on linguistic practice – from the emergence of Renaissance humanism to major thinkers such as Hobbes and Locke​. The author invites us into his novel and fascinating story of the genesis of Renaissance and Early Modern (and even contemporary) philosophy.'

Jan Papy - Catholic University of Leuven

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