Thinking of language and the difference (Jakobson, Luhmann, Humboldt, Gadamer, Heidegger)


It is certainly no accident that, at the start of the twentieth century, as the effect of language on (philosophical) thinking was no longer reported in terms of symptoms and signs, but rather as having “witnesses” – that is, as the first scientific reflections on this knowledge appeared, - the definition of language or of the sign was already being seen as inseparable from the definition of the difference. At the time, language, even before it could become the subject of these scientific reflections, was already understood as a type of difference, and indeed this occurred without the strange appearance of this conceptual connection being able to be linked to a conscious act of foundation – or any sort of starting theory. Language did not suddenly arise as an object of interest or subject at the centre of attention. Rather, its effect was felt as an event that was already past but still latent and formative in the present, which, while certainly interpreted differently , was experienced together ; while it certainly cannot be left uncommented on, it resists the temporal-causal order of the narrative and its distinctions. At the same time, language itself - with its intrusive knowledge - evades; it retreats back into itself as a difference and disappears just at the moment in which it as such appears and arises as a subject. When we consider the twentieth century history (whether a story of success or decline) of the definition of language from this point of view, or we read it as an answer to a latent event, the truth – demonstrable textually - of the interdependence of the definition of language with difference can be better understood. The goal of the present paper is to put the above-formulated hypotheses to the test through a close reading of exemplary works (by Roman Jakobson, Niklas Luhmann, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Martin Heidegger, among others), or, alternatively, to pursue the interdependence of language and difference in these texts.


Principal Investigators
Halász, Hajnalka (Details) (Hungarian Literature and Culture)

Duration of Project
Start date: 11/2016
End date: 10/2017

Research Areas
Humanities and Social Sciences

Research Areas
Geisteswissenschaften

Last updated on 2020-01-06 at 17:56