The Limits of Language

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Fordham Univ Press, 1994 - Philosophy - 290 pages
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The Limits of Language concerns itself with the nature and limits of language at a time when our understanding of the world and of ourselves is intimately related to what we understand of language. It offers a detailed examination of different approaches to, and claims about, language drawn from the variety of orientations taken toward it, primarily in the twentieth century. What makes the author's approach unique is its concern with the ways in which we may understand language and its relation to the world and ourselves as a question of limits, drawing upon contemporary continental and English-language views of language, philosophical and linguistic, from American pragmatists such as Peirce and Dewey, and from important contemporary sources such as feminist theory. The book bridges English-language and continental discussions of language partly by recognizing their contrasts but systematically developing an overarching view of language out of their interaction. The focus of the book on the limits of language leads from questions concerning a science of language, and how such a science may attempt to demarcate its limits, as in Saussure and Chomsky, to a view of grammar and structure, of rules, in language, again issues of whether there are permanent and far-reaching limits to language and to human linguistic capabilities. In addition, the limits of language mark the limits of humanity and our understanding of the world, as expressed in Wittgenstein and Heidegger, for example, so that exploration of language limits lead to the very limits of nature and experience, of individual and social life. These, as many contemporary writers argue, including Levinas, Lyotard, and Irigaray, are notontological, but are fundamentally ethical and political. In other words, far-reaching explorations in the possibilities of another ethics and politics emerge from the examination of language.

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Initial Considerations
General Principles
Language and Limits

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About the author (1994)

Stephen David Ross is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of Comparative Literature at the State University of New York at Binghamton.

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