[lit-ideas] Re: Make Up language

  • From: Phil Enns <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2014 10:06:22 +0600

Phatic, or 'phatic', asks what I meant when I wrote that the later
Heidegger occasionally indulges in a mystification of language. Here is an
example from the essay 'Language' (1950):

'To reflect on language thus demands that we enter into the speaking of
language in order to take up our stay with language, i.e., within its
speaking, not within our own. Only in that way do we arrive at the region
within which it may happen - or also fail to happen - that language will
call to us from there and grant us its nature. We leave the speaking to
language. We do not wish to ground language in something else that is not
language itself, nor do we wish to explain other things by means of
language.'

I am sympathetic to Heidegger's project here, to explore the ways in which
poetic language, for example, opens up new ways of understanding the world,
but I think it needs to be a bit more constrained. An example of a more
restrained approach can be found in Ricoeur's 'The Rule of Metaphor'.
Echoing Heidegger, Ricoeur writes:

'Does not the fittingness, the appropriateness of certain verbal and
non-verbal predicates, indicate that language not only has organized
reality in a different way, but also made manifest a way of being of
things, which is brought to language thanks to semantic innovation? It
would seem that the enigma of metaphorical discourse is that it "invents"
in both senses of the word: what it creates, it discovers; and what it
finds, it invents.'

Doesn't the force of a poem, or a painting, or a piece of music, come in
part through its ability to 'say' something that has not yet become part of
ordinary language? Perhaps this is how language speaks?


Phil Enns

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