Why is Locke's Linguistic Theory Still Current and Interesting Today?


  • Alessandro Prato Department of Political and Cognitive Social Sciences, University of Siena, Siena, Italy




language, arbitrariness of words, communication, signification, knowledge, semiotics1.


In the Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), Locke set out to offer an analysis of the human mind and its acquisition of knowledge still very current and important today. Locke offered also an empiricist theory according to which we acquire ideas through our experience of the world. The article examines Locke’s views on language and his principal innovation in the field of linguistic theory, represented by the recognition of the power of language with respect to the classification of the world, and its relative independence from reality. In particular the following topics are discussed: a) the polemical contrast with Cartesian philosophy b) the criticism that Locke levels against innatism c) the function of abstraction of the mind d) the concept of semiotics as a theory of thought and its expression e) the radical concept of arbitrariness f) the pragmatic factor intrinsic to Locke’s linguistics described as “communicational scepticism”.




How to Cite

Prato, A. (2022). Why is Locke’s Linguistic Theory Still Current and Interesting Today?. European Journal of Language and Literature, 8(2), 72–84. https://doi.org/10.26417/ejls.v5i3.p29-36