The claim of language: A phenomenological approach

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Title: The claim of language: A phenomenological approach
Author: Culbertson, Carolyn Sue, 1982-
Abstract: This dissertation develops an interpretation of Martin Heidegger's philosophical project in On the Way to Language and some of his earlier works that pave the way for this text and offers criticism of Heidegger's project in light of this interpretation. On the Way to Language stands apart from most twentieth century philosophy in arguing that, although human beings are within language in one sense, our relationship to language is nevertheless an estranged one. Heidegger often describes this condition as "lacking the word for the word." Because we are constantly speaking, we rarely if ever stop to wonder about the nature of language itself. Heidegger calls this our "entanglement" within language, a concept rooted in Being and Time 's exposition of the human being's thrownness. Read in terms of language, thrownness describes how we inherit concepts and find ourselves entangled in words prior to our reflection upon them. Heidegger presents what motivates us to bring the word to word in two ways. First, this need is rooted in the human being's fundamental structure of thrownness. Second, the need makes itself manifest through translation. My reading expands upon these two explanations of how we come to experience this entanglement, arguing that everyday communication regularly offers such experiences and demands that we modify, therefore temporarily distancing ourselves from, given language inheritances. The dissertation employs three other theorists, Roman Jakobson, Judith Butler, and Julia Kristeva, to flesh out how this need naturally arises in ordinary language development. Though he underestimates the extent to which everyday communicative situations require ongoing transformations of ordinary language, Heidegger nevertheless considers social encounters to be an important vehicle for language transformation. In this way, the goal of bringing our thrownness into language to word is not to disentangle ourselves from social relations, as some commentators have suggested. The last chapter shows how Paul Celan's poetics, in its inheritance of Heidegger's project, expands upon the role of social relations in language entanglement.
Description: xi, 182 p. A print copy of this thesis is available through the UO Libraries. Search the library catalog for the location and call number.
Date: 2010-06

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