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Title: Language and silence and Merleau-Ponty
Author: Hung, W.-S. H.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2001
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This dissertation examines Merleau-Ponty's conception of the relation between language and silence, and argues that from his early to his later works there is a change in his position. In the early works, the relation between language and silence is conceived as a relation of 'founding'. According to this conception, linguistic expression makes explicit the genesis of meaning already at work in pre-linguistic perceptual experience, while this pre-linguistic experience exists only in its appropriation by reflection. Hence while the meaning of experience is brought to expression by reflection, this meaning is nonetheless experience's own. The 'purity' of this meaning is guaranteed, as the pre-reflective is kept outside reflection as its limit. However, as long as experience and expression are thought of as the two poles of the relation, they cannot relate to each other except negatively, and in the Phenomenologie de la perception we find that the silent experience is described as an 'original past' that has never been present. However, the Phenomenologie remains unclear as to what this anteriority of experience to expression consists in, resulting in two apparently conflicting tendencies in its definition of reflection which presents reflection as both adequation and creation. At the time of Phenomenologie Merleau-Ponty does not see this result as undesirable. Rather, it captures the paradoxical nature of expression. He contends that by studying concrete instances of expression we will see how this contradiction is surpassed - in other words, how what is a 'bad ambiguity' at the beginning will turn out to be a 'good ambiguity'. This 'good ambiguity' is the unification of passivity and activity, particularity and generality, in the act of expression. But as he tries to study the higher forms of expression - in particular language - in more detail, Merleau-Ponty is led to question his earlier position.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available