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Heidegger’s language


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Staples, AJ 2013 , 'Heidegger’s language', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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In this dissertation I attempt to provide a cogent reading of Heidegger’s
fledgling account of the being of language. Emphasis is placed on the analysis of
language in Being and Time in particular; for it is with respect to Being and Time that
interpretations of Heidegger’s fledgling account are developed, and against which
his mature account is usually contrasted. Amongst these interpretations are the
derivativist and instrumentalist accounts of language, which suppose that language
is itself pre-figured by a pre- or non-linguistic grasp of phenomena. Against these
accounts, the structure and arguments for which I lay bare, I contend that language
is in each case already there, meaningfully articulating the world, affecting
understanding ab initio; that language is not therefore prefigured by – and in the first
instance absent from – the being-in-the-world which is our own. This, I claim, is
also Heidegger’s stance; a stance which, formed in Being and Time in essence, founds
his subsequent, increasingly dedicated thinking about what language, as such, ‘is’.
In addition to my critique of instrumentalism and derivativism in this
dissertation, I contest the contemporary pragmatist reading of Being and Time
inasmuch as it is occasionally employed to champion a non-linguistic normative
pragmatism with which to explain just how a non- or pre-linguistic grasp of
phenomena might properly occur.
As such, this dissertation encourages the reorientation of the philosophy of
language (as well as contemporary thinking about Heidegger’s own account of the
phenomenon) away from the temptation to think language ‘formally’ according to
an hierarchical structure of being-in-the-world, and towards the role and function
of language in the structural articulation of the world itself, human being-there,
and the hermeneutic tradition in which we inevitably find ourselves to be. As such, it outlines and suggests the possibility and preferability of a phenomenological – as
opposed to a metaphysical – account of what language is, attempts to show the
universality and ubiquitousness of language in human being, and illustrates the
opening ‘way’ to language qua language which Heidegger’s mature thinking was
eventually to take.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Staples, AJ
Keywords: Philosophy of language, Heidegger, derivativism
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