Thomas Hobbes Discussion Of Language

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Within this essay I aim to compare the different discussions of language found in Hobbes (Leviathan, Chapter IV: Of Speech), Locke (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Bk.III: Chapter I: Of Words of Language in General) and Berkeley (A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, Introduction §19 ff). To do this, I will be providing an account of each of the scholar’s views and from this distinguishing the similarities and differences of these views. The philosophy of language aims to solve issues surrounding language use and to help us understand the relationship between language and reality. The discussion of language is important as it provides a solution to many philosophical problems, while also solving problems that language generates itself. Language is the bridge that links the mind and the world. Therefore, it is important to understand how it works in order to know the nature of meaning, express our ideas, our thoughts and ourselves. Thomas Hobbes’ discussion of language can be found within the ‘Leviathan’, Chapter IV: Of Speech. Hobbes’ approach towards language was represented in his epigram where he stated,
‘For words are wise men’s counters, they do but reckon by them; but they are the money of fools, that value them by the authority of Aristotle, a Cicero, or a Thomas, or any other doctor whatsoever, if but a man.’
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Berkeley believes that many philosophical problems are actually our own fault as ‘we mismanage our own language and it trips us up.’ (Warnock, 1982, p.61) Language is at the root of much confusion we have about the nature of philosophy. Berkeley’s view on language can be found within the introduction of ‘A Treaties Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge.’ It is here that Berkeley reveals what he believes the purpose of language to be, agreeing with Locke that communicating ideas is an element; he states there are other ends to

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