Prefazione a Cesarotti linguista: il Saggio sulla filosofia delle lingue

  • Stefano Gensini
Keywords: Melchiorre Cesarotti, philosophy of language, Questione della lingua, Enlightenment, Italian culture


Melchiorre Cesarotti’s Saggio sulla filosofia delle lingue, published in its final edition in 1800, is rightly considered the most mature product of the reflection on language of Italian intellectuals in the 18th century. This judgement is confirmed and argued on the basis of a re-reading of the main theoretical themes of the Essay, as well as its indications of linguistic policy. In order to clarify the scope and historical limits of Cesarotti’s thought, attention is paid not only to its French and German sources, but also to the Italian historical and cultural context in which it took place.