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Yet Humboldt’s French reception, while including some of his important linguistic studies, all but omitted their philosophical concerns and underlying principles.
Typical is the review of Humboldt’s groundbreaking treatise from 1827, “On the Dual” that appeared in the , I: 378–381 (1829), where the reviewer blended out entirely the philosophical intent and key argument of the piece (Ibid.
Yet at the same time both Humboldt brothers were deeply immersed in the study of the Greeks.
It is only in the late twentieth century that the philosopher of language and linguist Humboldt has been discovered in France by men like Henri Meschonic, Jean Rousseau or Denis Thouard (For their publications see, Bösch 2006, pp. Surprisingly, Humboldt’s name has been notoriously absent in the extensive debates prompted by Jacques Derrida and his concerning the role of writing (écriture) for an understanding of language and culture and its alleged neglect in the Western tradition because of its inherent phonocentrism.Thus a prominent figure like Franz Bopp would maintain that the languages of the South Pacific represented but decayed forms of Sanskrit despite the fact that Humboldt had already thoroughly disproved this opinion in his Kavi Work and demonstrated that these languages constituted what is called today the Austronesian language group (Mueller-Vollmer 1991).Even the linguist Heyman Steinthal, who published in 1884 a two volume edition of Humboldt’s writings entitled (Humboldt’s works in philosophy of language) (see “Works”, bibliography), in his introduction and commentaries criticises Humboldt from a reductionist psychologistic position and neither here or anywhere in his other writings made a serious attempt to discuss Humboldt’s own arguments and to investigate his actual philosophical position.There are references to Humboldt throughout his work, he translated an unpublished treatise of his “On the American Verb System” and regarded him as founder of “the Philosophy of Language” (Brinton 1890, p. Yet what he and his followers understood by this term was confined largely to the methodological principles that governed Humboldt’s typological and comparative studies and excluded essential dimensions and the actual philosophical concerns expressed in his writings.A similar process of partial appropriation has been characteristic also of the philosophers who paid serious attention to Humboldt’s views, such as Ernst Cassirer (1923–29), Martin Heidegger (1927, 1959), and more recently Bruno Liebrucks (1965), Hans-Georg Gadamer (1960, 1965, 1972), and Jürgen Habermas (1985, 1988, 1991).
Wilhelm (Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand) von Humboldt, German man of letters extraordinary, close friend of the poets Goethe and Schiller, whose life’s work encompasses the areas of philosophy, literature, linguistics, anthropology, education, and political thought as well statesmanship was born in Potsdam on June 23, 1767 and died at Tegel near Berlin on April 8, 1835.