The Analytical Language of John Wilkins


, 1942
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I have noticed that the 14th edition of Encyclopedia Britannica does not include the article on John Wilkins. This omission can be considered justified if we remember how trivial this article was (20 lines of purely biographical data: Wilkins was born in 1614, Wilkins died in 1672, Wilkins was chaplain of Charles Louis, Elector Palatine; Wilkins was principal of one of Oxford's colleges, Wilkins was the first secretary of the Royal Society of London, etc.); it is an error if we consider the speculative works of Wilkins. He was interested in several different topics: theology, cryptography, music, the building of transparent beehives, the orbit of an invisible planet, the possibility of a trip to the moon, the possibility and principles of an universal language. To this latter problem he dedicated the book 'An Essay Towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language' (600 pages in large quarto, 1668). There are no copies of this book in our National Library, I have consulted, to write the present article, 'The Life and Times of John Wilkins' (1910), by P. A. Wright Henderson; the 'Wörterbuch der Philosophie' (1935), by Fritz Mauthner; 'Delphos' (1935), by E. Sylvia Pankhurst; 'Dangerous Thoughts' (1939), by Lancelot Hogben.