Tuesday, August 23, 2016
In NDPR, David G. Stern reviews Andrew Inkpin's Disclosing the World: On the Phenomenology of Language.
Inkpin argues that any interpretation of Heidegger’s account of the role of language in disclosure has to resolve an apparent tension between two desiderata that Heidegger tried to respect. On the one hand, Heidegger insists that language is “continuous with other meaningful activities”, and that the use of language can be understood as a particularly sophisticated form of tool-using activity, progressively building from lower to higher levels of determinacy. This pragmatic approach is developed in detail in §§28-33 of Being and Time, and naturally lends itself to a view of language on which it only plays a peripheral role in disclosure, as a supplement to our pre-linguistic skills. On the other hand, in §34 of Being and Time Heidegger insists that linguistic articulation has a quite specific form, namely being about something, and saying something of it, and that this is sharply distinct from other forms of intelligent behavior. This constitutive approach, which appears to draws a firm line between language and other meaningful activities, lends itself to a view of language on which all understanding shares a specifically linguistic structure.
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