The Linguistic Turn in Hermeneutic Philosophy

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The linguistic turn in German philosophy was initiated in the eighteenth century in the work of Johann Georg Hamann, Johann Gottfried von Herder, and Wilhelm von Humboldt. It was further developed in this century by Martin Heidegger, and Hans-Georg Gadamer extended its influence to contemporary philosophers such as Karl-Otto Apel and J├╝rgen Habermas. This tradition focuses on the world-disclosing dimension of language, emphasizing its communicative over its cognitive function.

Although this study is concerned primarily with the German tradition of linguistic philosophy, it is very much informed by the parallel linguistic turn in Anglo-American philosophy, especially the development of theories of direct reference. Cristina Lafont draws upon Hilary Putnam's work in particular to criticize the linguistic idealism and relativism of the German tradition, which she traces back to the assumption that meaning determines reference. Part I is a reconstruction of the linguistic turn in German philosophy from Hamann to Gadamer.

Part II offers the deepest account to date of Habermas's approach to language. Part III shows how the shortcomings of German linguistic philosophy can be avoided by developing a consistent and more defensible version of Habermas' theory of communicative rationality.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"Lafont's scholarship is consistently first-rate. She provides a superb reconstruction of the development of Habermas's views of language, perhaps the most difficult part of his philosophical theory. She also proposes a novel reading of the connections between Habermas and the tradition, contextualizing him in a very interesting way. Finally, Lafont handles texts in the analytic and continental traditions with equal clarity." Pablo De Greiff ,Department of Philosophy, SUNY Buffalo
Pablo De Greiff
Lafont's scholarship is consistently first-rate. She provides a superb reconstruction of the development of Habermas's views of language, perhaps the most difficult part of his philosophical theory. She also proposes a novel reading of the connections between Habermas and the tradition, contextualizing him in a very interesting way. Finally, Lafont handles texts in the analytic and continental traditions with equal clarity.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Cristina Lafont is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University.

She is the author of Heidegger, Language, and World-Disclosure.

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Table of Contents

1 Hamann's Critique of Kant: The Role of Language as Constitutive of Our Relation with the World
1.1 Language as the Hidden Common Root of Understanding and Sensibility Sought by Kant
1.2 The Untenability of the Kantian Distinction between A Priori and A Posteriori
2 The Constitutive Dimension of Language According to Humboldt
2.1 Language as Constitutive of the World vs. Language as Tool
2.2 Articulation as World-Disclosure: The Cognitive-Semantic Dimension of Language
2.3 Intersubjectivity as a Dialogical Process: The Communicative-Pragmatic Dimension of Language
3 The View of Language of Philosophical Hermeneutics
3.1 The Radicalization of the Conception of Language as World-Disclosure in Heidegger's Linguistic T...
3.1.1 Meaning Determines Reference
3.1.2 Meaning Holism
3.1.3 Heidegger's Critique of Humboldt after the Kehre
3.2 Gadamer's Reception of Humboldt and Heidegger: Linguistic World-Disclosure as the Condition of P...
3.2.1 Gadamer's Reception of Humboldt's View of Language as World-Disclosure
3.2.2 Language as Medium of Understanding: The Model of Conversation
3.2.2.a Conversation and Understanding
3.2.2.b Conversation as a "Happening"
3.2.3 Consequences for Hermeneutic Philosophy
4 Language as Medium of Understanding: The Communicative Use of Language
4.1. The Reception of the View of Language of Philosophical Hermeneutics in "The Hermeneutic Claim t...
4.1.1 The Superiority of the Nonobjectivist Conception ofLanguage in Hermeneutics
4.1.2 The Need for a Theory of Communicative Action
4.2. The Analysis of Communicative Action in "What Is Universal Pragmatics?"
4.2.1 The Presuppositions of Action Oriented toward Understanding: The Validity Basis of Speech
4.2.1.a The Double Structure of Speech
4.2.1. b Communicative Action and Discourse: The Reflective Force Inherent in Understanding
4.2.2 Two Structural Shortcomings
4.2.2. a The Formal Point of View
4.2.2.b Foundational Problems
4.3 The Systematic Improvements Introduced in Theory of Communicative Action
4.3.1 The Complementarity of Communicative Action and Lifeworld
4.3. 1.a The Lifeworld and the Universalist Claim
4.3. 1.b Lifeworld and the Formal Perspective
4.3.2 The Need to Ground the Theory of Communication in a Theory of Language in General
4.4 Structural Problems in Habermas's Conception of Language: The Connection between Meaning and Val...
4.4.1 The Difficulties of a Pragmatic Theory of Meaning
4.4.1.a The Standpoint of Formal Pragmatics
4.4.1.b Meaning Holism
4.4.2 The Validity Claim of Intelligibility and the World-Disclosing Function of Language
5 Language as Medium of Learning: The Cognitive Use of Language
5.1 Some Paradoxes of the Thesis That Meaning Determines Reference
5.2 Donnellan's and Putnam's Theories of Direct Reference: The Referential Function of Language
5.2.1 Donnellan's Distinction between the Referential and Attributive Uses of Definite Descriptions
5.2.2 Putnam's Explanation of the Functioning of Theoretical Terms in the Empirical Sciences
5.3 The Condition of Possibility of Discourse: The Referential Function of Language and the Formatio...
6 Rational Acceptability and Truth
6.1 Truth as an Epistemic Notion
6.2 Truth as an Achievement Word
6.2.1 The Non-Epistemic Sense of Achievement Words
6.2.2 The Epistemic Requirements for the Use of Achievement Words
7 Rational Acceptability and Moral Rightness
7.1 Cognitivism: Moral Rightness and Truth
7.2 Moral Discourse and Moral Rightness
7.2.1 Moral Discourse as a Sufficient Condition for Moral Rightness
7.2.2 Moral Discourse as a Necessary Condition for Moral Justification
7.3 Moral Cognitivism and Ethical Pluralism
7.3.1 Realism and Conceptual Relativity
7.3.2 Pluralism: The Right and the Good
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