Max Müller in History of Linguistics: Forgotten Classics or Springboard to Future? 200th Anniversary of Birth

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The study is devoted to the actualization of the ideas of the great comparative scholar of the XIXth century Max Müller (1823-1900), a contemporary of A. Schleicher, who, as is traditionally believed, worked mainly in the naturalistic trend. The authors of the study show that the achievements of M. Müller were unreasonably underestimated, calling the scientist a popularizer of science. The victory of positivism in German linguistics weakened interest in the works by M. Müller: linguistics was no longer perceived as a natural science. It is noted that the positivist approach denied the “metaphysical” typology, close in spirit to M. Müller. The authors come to the conclusion that M. Müller’s ideas and methodological attitudes survived his time into the future and sound relevant in the humanities of the XXIst century, based on the anthropological understanding of linguistic phenomena. M. Müller was one of the first scholars to distinguish between philology and linguistics, he boldly extrapolated the attitudes of comparative studies to other areas of humanitarian knowledge - mythology, religion, innovatively applied a socio-cultural approach to the analysis of language features and the study of archaic texts. The study compares M. Müller’s ideas with traditional historical observations of national comparativist- and-historical observations of Russian comparativists - F.I. Buslaev and I.I. Sreznevsky. It is emphasized that his works reveal the connection of philosophy with private sciences: linguistics, theology, cultural history. In this sense, “The Science of Language” can be regarded as an original experience of creating philological hermeneutics. It is stated that M. Müller studied the historical space of language from the point of view relevant to the modern science of comparative semasiology. The refraction of his ideas is observed in the works of modern scientists - typologists, comparativists, conceptologists: V.A. Dybo, V.V. Ivanov, V.N. Toporov, Yu.S. Stepanov. Once again, the naturalistic approach is reaching a new level of development in the XXIst century, and the comparative method - the main research tool of M. Müller and other scientists of the Schleicher era - is being actualized not only in linguistics, but also in philology, history of religion and ethnology. The dialectical approach to typological linguistics applied by M. Müller, remains in demand by the science of modern times.

About the authors

Vladimir M. Alpatov

Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences

ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4323-2832
Scopus Author ID: 33067564500
ResearcherId: EJF-4777-2022

D.Sc. (Philology), Professor, Academician of RAS, Head of the Department of Languages of East and Southeast Asia, Institute of Linguistics of RAS

1, p. 1, Bolshoy Kislovsky Lane, Moscow, Russian Federation, 125009

Olga I. Valentinova

RUDN University

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8510-8701
Scopus Author ID: 57193140621
ResearcherId: Х-8826-2019

D.Sc. (Philology), Professor, Professor of the Department of General and Russian Linguistics, Philological Faculty

6, Miklukho-Maklaya str., Moscow, Russian Federation, 117198

Oleg V. Nikitin

Petrozavodsk State University

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2815-6691
Scopus Author ID: 57209316536
ResearcherId: AAE-8207-2019

D.Sc. (Philology), Professor, Professor of the Department of the Russian Language

33, Lenin Avenue, Petrozavodsk, Russian Federation, 185910


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Copyright (c) 2023 Alpatov V.M., Valentinova O.I., Nikitin O.V.

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