chapter  5
Language and History in the Context of the Société des Observateurs de l’Homme (1799–1804)
ByMartin Herrnstadt, Laurens Schlicht
Pages 17

The 'storehouse of languages', understood in the framework of natural history as the system of classification of languages, provided a powerful basis for the history of the human mind. The present chapter will thus focus on the question of how language and models of conceptualizing the history of the human mind were conceived by Gerando and Sicard. Both developed models of a scientific and empirical nature, and both relied on a specific understanding of the history of the human mind as the necessary precondition for validating knowledge about language. For Gerando this involved a certain understanding of history: 'The secret of the future lies in the past. The history of nations is the first study of the legislator. Thus, the end of any history of the mind was the harmonization of different or even contradictory demands of the sign systems that made up the different branches of human knowledge.