From pragmatics to semiotics
The influence of John Wilkins’ pulpit oratory on his philosophical language
John Wilkins’ (1614–1672) earlier work on pulpit oratory in Ecclesiastes (1646) and Gift of Prayer (1655) provide a rationale for his later work on philosophical language in his Essay towards a Real Character (1868). Clauss (1982) pointed out that one could view Wilkins’ linguistic writings as compatible, and the present paper advances her argument by showing that his work on philosophical language grew out of his work on pulpit oratory. Moreover, his pulpit oratory is rooted in pragmatics – how to move the listener to righteous action – while his philosophical language is focused on semiotics – how to convey the ‘true meaning’ of all things and notions.
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