William Blake vs 17th-18th century linguistics

Essick, Robert N. William Blake and the Language of Adam. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989.


       List of Plates                                                                      ix
       Note on Texts                                                                      x
       Introduction                                                                         1
1.    Adam Naming the Beasts and its Companions            6
2.    In Pursuit of the Motivated Sign                                     28
3.    Natural Signs and the Fall of Language                        104
4.    Language and Modes of Production                              160
5.    The Return to Logos                                                        195
       Afterword: Romantic Languages and Modern
            Methodologies                                                           237
       Bibliography                                                                   240
       Index                                                                               261

Here two usually distinct lines of humanistic inquiry intersect: Blake studies and the history of linguistics and the scientific revolution. Conceptions of language and signification, evolving with the rationalism and empiricism of early modern philosophy and science, are challenged by Blake’s radically different world view.

Of particular interest here is Chapter 2, in which Blake’s view of language is contrasted with the philosophical languages of the 17th and 18th centuries—Wilkins, Dalgarno, etc.—a comparison one does not often see. See also pp. 133-135 for more on John Wilkins.

Presumably here one can learn more about the historically evolving dialectic between scientism and romanticism in the modern world.

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