Saturday, May 23, 2015
In Philosophy Now, Audrey Borowski on reality defining language.
Heidegger went further than his predecessors by grounding his theory of ‘ontological difference’ in language. According to this idea, human consciousness’s very access to entities was predicated on language. Simply put, there was no being, no prior distinct existence, from which any essence for anything could be understood, without a linguistic understanding of it. In the words of the German poet Stefan George, “there is no thing where the word is lacking” (from ‘The Word’, 1928). Heidegger expanded on this ‘ontological’ nature of language in his essay ‘On The Way To Language’: “The thing is a thing only where the word is found for the thing… The word alone supplies being to the thing, [for] something only is, where the appropriate word names something as existing and in this way institutes the particular entity as such… The being of that which is resides in the word. For this reason, the following phrase holds good: language is the house of being” (On the Way to Language, 1959). Within this framework, language is world-instituting, since it brings about a ‘happening of being’ in which man is thrown and through which a world appears.
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