Linguistic Phenomenology?

  • Jocelyn Benoist
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 187)

There is a historical puzzle about phenomenology in the XX th century (about phenomenology as typically a philosophy of the XX th century): that is to say, its relation to language. It looks as if phenomenology had to sway between two alternate positions, which bear no compromise: either the language is nothing, or it is everything. On the one side, you find this characteristic suspicion with which the traditional phenomenologist very commonly looks at Analytic philosophy as something that he takes to be ‘merely linguistic’. On the other side, you find this ‘linguistic mirage’ that Thomas Pavel denounced appropriately, which is taken to be the distinctive feature of a certain stage of Continental thought, that is to say structuralism, but in which a certain phenomenology was certainly involved as well. The result of that is at least an enigma: how a thought which was originally supposed to be ‘not linguistic’ as such, and is still very commonly perceived that way and opposed to alleged more linguistic perspectives in philosophy, might so easily suffer such a change of sign and be turned into a possible absolutization of a linguistic point of view (in that fetishism of die Sprache, to which the later Heidegger’s philosophy, or, in another sense, hermeneutics in general definitely seem to stick)? Some people might be content with seeing a break in that — for instance a break between Heidegger and Husserl, or between the later and the earlier Heidegger. Personally I am not so sure that there is any break — a revision certainly, but that is another problem. There is some logic in that. This logic is just that of the ignorance of the reality of language. The same kind of philosophy can be in turn proclaimed either non-linguistic or ‘absolutely’ linguistic and, in both cases, just do the same, that is to say: jump over the reality of language, conceiving of no other alternatives for language itself than either the subordination (to something that, as such, is not linguistic) or the hypostatization (as some kind of absolute principle standing by itself).


Mental Life Linguistic Analysis Phenomenological Perspective Linguistic Turn Linguistic Perspective 
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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jocelyn Benoist
    • 1
  1. 1.Archives Husserl de ParisFrance

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