Words Underway

Continental Philosophy of Language

By (author) Carolyn Culbertson

Publication date:

22 May 2019

Length of book:

152 pages


Rowman & Littlefield International

ISBN-13: 9781786608048

Words Underway offers the first full account of the important contributions the Continental tradition has made to the philosophy of language. Carolyn Culbertson examines the vital work of a range of thinkers, including Heidegger, Gadamer, Blanchot, and Kristeva. The book argues that Continental theorists are particularly helpful in recognizing our unique potential for becoming alienated from some discourse. At the same time, Culbertson argues that Continental philosophy of language tends not to treat the alienated relationship to language as something absolute. For most Continental theorists, at least, language is a living system, that is, a system maintained by undergoing constant expansion and transformation by language users. The book goes on to explore the attention Continental theorists have given to the way that forms of political power, for example gender dynamics in communication, can sometimes thwart this process and thus reinforce alienation. This book will transform the reader’s sense of what the philosophy of language is about and will attract the attention of students and scholars of both philosophy of language and the Continental tradition.
Culbertson’s book breaks new ground in offering a comprehensive treatment of the philosophy of language from a continental perspective, not simply a survey of representative authors but a unique thematic path for new directions that exceed standard assumptions: how normative and developmental elements take precedence over mere descriptive accounts of linguistic formats; how the experience of alienation is a key factor in human discourse and development; how creative openness is an ever-ready impetus in language; how constraining and liberating forces both contribute to identity formation and cultural possibilities. Highly recommended.