Merleau-Ponty's Encounter with Saussure's Linguistics: Misreading, Reinterpretation or Prolongation?
2013 (English)In: Chiasmi International, ISSN 1637-6757, Vol. 15, 123-142 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The prevailing judgement of Merleau-Ponty’s encounter with Saussure’s linguistics is that, although important for the evolution of his philosophy of language, it was based on a mistaken or at least highly idiosyncratic interpretation of Saussure’s ideas. Significantly, the rendering of Saussure that has been common both in Merleau-Ponty scholarship and in linguistics has been based on the structuralist development of the Genevan linguist’s ideas. This article argues that a reading of Saussure in light of certain passages of the Course of General Linguistics forgotten by the structuralists, and of the manuscripts related to the published works, can show to the contrary that Merleau-Ponty’s account was sustainable. An understanding of Saussure’s ideas that does not flinch from their paradoxical features can throw light upon the French phenomenologist’s views on language and expression. Moreover, the “linguistic turn” in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophical development, identified by James Edie for example, does not seem to have been so clear-cut as have previously been believed; the influence of Saussure’s thought had certainly begun before he wrote the Phenomenology of Perception.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 15, 123-142 p.
Merleau-Ponty, Saussure, phenomenology, linguistics, language, expression
Research subject Theoretical Philosophy
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-113191DOI: 10.5840/chiasmi20131514OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-113191DiVA: diva2:783396