Prepositions and Spatial Relations in Natural Languages According to Leibniz
In his 1677 Dialogue, Leibniz answers the question of how it is possible that speakers of different languages agree on the same truths by postulating “a certain correspondence between characters and things”. In the mid-1680s, he arguably attempts to specify this “correspondence” by explaining how linguistic particles are connected to our perception of spatial relations among things in the world. Firstly, this paper focuses on the role that, according to Leibniz, signs and characters play in our knowledge. Secondly, it introduces the solution that can be found in the Dialogue to the problem of how the same truth can be expressed in different languages. After briefly expounding Leibniz’s theory of natural languages, the paper gives an account of Leibniz’s analysis of the nature of prepositions and of how they contribute, in a natural language, to determine the correspondence between characters and things that is mentioned in the Dialogue.
Keywords: Tropes • Spatial Relations • Natural Languages • Knowledge • Leibniz • Prepositions