Title: “In Search of Lost Speech: From Language to Nature in Merleau-Ponty’s Collège de France Courses.” Humana.Mente.
Abstract: This paper tracks the development of Merleau-Ponty’s inquiries into language through the themes of institution, symbolism, and nature in his Collège de France lectures of 1953-1960. It seeks to show the continuity of Merleau-Ponty’s inquiries over this period. The Problem of Speech course (1953-1954) constitutes his last extended treatment of speech, language, and expression, and it leaves many questions unanswered. Nonetheless, a careful study of the course reveals that the inquiries that follow into institution and symbolism, and later into nature, do not mark a sharp rupture with his earlier thought. Rather, the later investigations are required by those into language and expression to clarify the underlying functions that support them. Ultimately, the themes of language and nature will be deeply interwoven in Merleau-Ponty’s late thought, with institution and symbolism serving as important mediating concepts.
This paper was published open access. You can download it for free at the publisher’s site (here).
Though this paper is very narrow in scope and will be of interest primarily to Merleau-Ponty scholars, it is part of a broader ongoing project to connect the meaning we find in nature with the meaning we make in culture and language. Stay tuned for more – including a book! – soon.