Continental Philosophy Review
343–365, 1999. © 1999
K luwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Material phenomenology and language(or, pathos and language)*
16, rue Jacques Coeur, 34000 Montpellier, France
The brief comments that I am proposing here on language are given inthe name of phenomenology. The phrase “the phenomenology of lan-guage”, can be understood in two senses. On the one hand, phenom-enology can be understood as a method of investigation, in which casethe phenomenology of language consists in the application of this methodto a specific problem. In this “application,” phenomenology has the op- portunity to demonstrate its fecundity as an original discipline by dis- playing the means which define it. Husserl had followed this path after the turning point of 1900. The intervention of amethod which was notyet elucidated but which was already the method of intentional analysisgives rise to one of the greatest analyses of language that contemporarythought has at its disposal. Whether they acknowledge it or not, phi-losophy and other disciplines such as linguistics will come to borrow avariety of insights from this analysis.The implementation of a defining method requires phenomenology,however, to thematize itself, and, more generally, to become radicallyself-conscious. The presuppositions upon which phenomenology is basedthen progressively come to light for it. Today, we can recognize them inthe famous section seven of
Being and Time
and formulate them asfollows.
. Phenomenology is not defined first in fact as a method but by meansof its object. This object does not designate the set of phenomena, butwhat makes each phenomenon what it is, that is, the phenomenon’s phenomenality considered as such – its appearance, its manifestation,its revelation or yet the truth understood in an originary sense.
*Translated by Leonard Lawlor, with permissions of M. Henry and Editions du Cerf.