SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

The Silent Language -- Leibniz' Dream in (digital) Pictures
(Philosophy of Language, English)

Leibniz had the dream of a language that was able to solve all the problems our natural languages have to deal with. The idea was a life project which never made it to a successful implementation. Leibniz mentions his Lingua Charactersitica 1666 for the first time in his Dissertatio de Arte Combinatoria but continued to work on it his whole life. He described a symbolic system which is capable of mapping our mind and its thoughts and therefore would be more powerful and accurate than our natural language. Beyond that he wanted it to pursue epistemic purposes. The system should be able to verify truth but also to find new truth. Even though this last part is hard to find in later projects of artificial languages, we can in fact find a lot similarities between Leibniz' dream and actual realized projects.

In my talk, we will focus on picture languages. I will start by giving a rough introduction to Leibniz' idea of a universal language. Thereafter we will get to Otto Neurath and his picture language Isotype (International System of Typografical Picture Education). We will see that this language has much more in common with Leibniz' idea than you would think at first glance. However, there are also many differences which we will figure out. But when we trace Neurath's idea over time, we will see that it still lives today everywhere. Especially in our digital world. Every button, every icon can be seen as a part of a picture language. If we compare this developed version of Neurath's language with Leibniz' idea we can see the differences vanishing. Concluding the talk I argue that in order to create a functional artificial language with abstract symbols, it is necessary for this language to go through a stage of development where the symbols are iconic (or skeuomorphism in design), as it happened with Neurath's picture language. From there on the language can evolve into the kind of formal and abstract language Leibniz had in mind (corresponding to flat design).

Chair: Aglaia Anna Marlene von Götz
Time: 16:00-16:30, 20 September 2019 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.006

Mira Sarikaya 
(University of Hamburg, Germany)

My name is Mira Sarikaya and I am currently a PhD student in Philosophy at the University of Hamburg. After I finished my master's degree in 2017, I am happy to go on with my work on Leibniz and artificial languages. Already during my master's studies, I focused on philosophy of language, logic and the history of both areas. In my thesis, I argued that Leibniz' work on his Lingua Characteristica can be seen as a predecessor of Rudolf Carnap's Logical Structure of the World. In my PhD thesis, I extend this thought and consider Leibniz as a predecessor of many later projects of artificial languages --- both in the area of formal and a priori philosophical languages and in the area of international auxiliary languages like for instance Esperanto. Beside my academic interests I am also interested in nearly every area that has to do with language. I love literature and to learn foreign languages. Also, I am writing poetry and teach creative writing in my own school projects.

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