3 Annotations

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Wilkins, John, 1614-1672.
An essay towards a real character, and a philosophical language. By John Wilkins D.D. Dean of Ripon, and Fellow of the Royal Society.
London : printed for Sa: Gellibrand, and for John Martyn printer to the Royal Society, 1668.

[20], 454, [162] p., [4] leaves of plates, 1 table : ill. ; 2⁰. [A]² a-d² B-3M⁴, 3a⁴ 3A-3S⁴ 3T⁴(-3T4). Leaf 3M4 is blank.

"An alphabetical dictionary, wherein all English words according to their various significations, are either referred to their places in the philosophical tables, or explained by such words as are in those tables" ([162] p. at end) has a separate dated title page and register

Order-to-print on leaf [A]1v: 'Monday 13th. of April. 1668. At a meeting ... Ordered, That the Discourse presented ... be Printed by the Printer to the Royal Society. Brouncker Presi.'
Wing (CD-ROM, 1996), W2196

PL 2356, Purchased: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1668/05/15/

Terry Foreman  •  Link

An Essay Towards a Real Character, and A Philosophical Language - John Wilkins F.R.S. 1668

Reproduction and transcription of a short section of the Essay proposing ideas on weights and measure similar to those later found in the metric system.

Bill  •  Link

"In [John Wilkins's] "Essay Towards a Real Character, and a Philosophical Language," from 1668, Wilkins laid out a sprawling taxonomic tree that was intended to represent a rational classification of every concept, thing, and action in the universe. Each branch along the tree corresponded to a letter or a syllable, so that assembling a word was simply a matter of tracing a set of forking limbs until you'd arrived on a distant tendril representing the concept you wanted to express. For example, in Wilkins's system, De signifies an element, Deb is fire, and Deba is a flame.
The natural philosopher Robert Hooke was so impressed with Wilkins's language that he published a discourse on pocket watches in it, and proposed it be made the lingua franca of scientific research. That never happened. The language was simply too burdensome, and it soon vanished into obscurity. But Wilkins taxonomic-classification scheme, which organized words by meaning rather than alphabetically, was not entirely without use: it was a predecessor of the first modern thesaurus."
Joshua Foer. New Yorker Magazine, Dec. 24 & 31, 2012, p.88.

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.


Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.