Phenomenology and Ontology of Language and Expression: Merleau-Ponty on Speaking and Spoken Speech

Human Studies 41 (3):415-435 (2018)
Authors
Hayden Kee
Fordham University
Abstract
This paper clarifies Merleau-Ponty’s distinction between speaking and spoken speech, and the relation between the two, in his Phenomenology of Perception. Against a common interpretation, I argue on exegetical and philosophical grounds that the distinction should not be understood as one between two kinds of speech, but rather between two internally related dimensions present in all speech. This suggests an interdependence between speaking and spoken aspects of speech, and some commentators have critiqued Merleau-Ponty for claiming a priority of speaking over spoken speech. However, there is a sense in which Merleau-Ponty is right to emphasize the priority, namely, in terms of the ontological priority of the speaking subject with respect to language understood as a constituted cultural ideality. The latter only maintains its ontological status insofar as it is taken up by a language community. I favorably contrast Merleau-Ponty’s views on this question to those of the late Heidegger and de Saussure, and suggest potential applications of this clarified position for contemporary discussions in philosophy of language.
Keywords phenomenology  Merleau-Ponty  expression  language  speech  Phenomenology of Perception  philosophy of language  Heidegger  de Saussure
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DOI 10.1007/s10746-018-9456-x
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References found in this work BETA

Phenomenology of Perception.Aron Gurwitsch, M. Merleau-Ponty & Colin Smith - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (3):417.
Poetry, Language, Thought.Martin Heidegger - 1971 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 31 (1):117-123.
Otherwise Than Being or Beyond Essence.Emmanuel Levinas & Alphonso Lingis - 1984 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 17 (4):245-246.
The Visible and the Invisible.Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Claude Lefort & Alphonso Lingis - 1970 - Philosophical Quarterly 20 (80):278-279.

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