How is it that sounds from the mouth or marks on a page—which by themselves are nothing like things or events in the world—can be world-disclosive in an automatic manner? In this fascinating and important book, Lawrence J. Hatab presents a new vocabulary for Heidegger’s early phenomenology of being-in-the-world and applies it to the question of language. He takes language to be a mode of dwelling, in which there is an immediate, direct disclosure of meanings, and sketches an extensive picture of proto-phenomenology, how it revises the posture of philosophy, and how this posture applies to the nature of language. Representational theories are not rejected but subordinated to a presentational account of immediate disclosure in concrete embodied life. The book critically addresses standard theories of language, such that typical questions in the philosophy of language are revised in a manner that avoids binary separations of language and world, speech and cognition, theory and practise, realism and idealism, internalism and externalism.
Preface / Introduction / 1. Proto-Phenomenology and the Lived World / 2. Disclosure, Interpretation, and Philosophy / 3. Proto-Phenomenology and Language / 4. Language and Truth / 5. Transition to Volume II / Bibliography / Index
Hatab deftly integrates phenomenological and analytic resources in philosophy, in consultation with empirical studies, to offer a brilliant analysis of the non-representational existential aspects of how we are in-the-world through the meaning-disclosing performance of language. He traces the disclosive processes of language that cut across the physical, social and cultural dimensions of our existence, prior to and underpinning its representational functions. His analysis not only provides insight into how language works, but also deconstructs the basic assumptions that underlie the central debates in the philosophy of language.
"In this first of two volumes Lawrence Hatab crowns a brilliant career in philosophy with one of the best treatments of Heidegger on language that we have. Beautifully written, the book conjugates penetrating scholarship with a clarity of presentation that is a model for scholarship in continental philosophy. "
Hatab’s fecund account of ‘ecstatic dwelling in the lived world’ applies central Heideggerian insights with remarkable clarity to a wide range of philosophical topics, including the nature of meaning, language, and truth. ‘Old’ Heideggerians are exposed to a wealth of congenial developments in the analytic tradition and embodied cognitive science; proponents of the latter are treated to an ‘existential naturalism’ that suits their orientation. Highly recommended.
If Hatab in many ways takes his lead from the early Heidegger’s phenomenology of being-in-the-world, he is not afraid to move beyond the limits of that project, both in terms of the scope of substantive issues he explores and methodological resources he employs in doing so. The book focuses on the presentational, disclosive nature of language as it is revealed in everyday, practical, and dialogical contexts of use, arguing for the primacy of these aspects of language over the more decontextualized, representational features that are made the focus of much work in the dominant traditions of linguistics and philosophy of language.
Lawrence J. Hatab is Louis I. Jaffe Professor of Philosophy and Eminent Scholar Emeritus at Old Dominion University.