La fonte della critica di Herder al modello della statua esposta nell’Abhandlung über den Ursprung der Sprache

Jacopo D'Alonzo


This paper discusses the source of Herder’s refutation of the example of the statue that was proposed by Buffon, Condillac and Bonnet during the eighteenth century. Herder criticized the example in his most famous work devoted to language, i.e. the Abhandlung über den Ursprung der Sprache. Probably, Herder had not a first-hand knowledge of the Buffon, Condillac and Bonnet’s essays. Indeed, some scholars have suggested that Herder’s source could be d’Holbach’s Systéme de la nature. However, the cross-check of following evidences certainly proves that d’Holbach cannot be the source: 1) a letter written by Herder to Johann Heinrich Merck in the same period; 2) the arguments raised against the example of the statue. Our purpose here is that the source can be a today almost unknown French philosopher’s work, i.e. Jean-Baptiste-Claude de Lisle de Sales’s De la philosophie de la nature. This research is relevant because Herder’s rebuttal of the “statue” is a key factor in the argumentation about the origin of human language exposed in the Abhandlung.


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