Philology as philosophy: Giovanni Pontano on language, meaning, and grammar

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This article studies the views on language of an important yet understudied humanist, Giovanni Pontano (1429–1503). Attention is paid to his ideas on the origins of language; the emotive and active functions of language; the intrinsic connection between language and sociability; and his grammatical work. When compared to developments in the Enlightenment his views turn out to be philosophically interesting and relevant. As such this article underscores a still undervalued point that, even though humanists were perhaps not philosophers, philosophical assumptions and convictions did drive their textual-philological studies, having important implications for their wider views on history and culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-502
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the History of Ideas
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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