Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

How to Make Content out of Form: Towards a Hegelian-Saussurean Theory of Non-Linear Structures of Possibility

  • Søren Rosendal (a1)

Abstract

In this article I argue that Hegel and Saussure both discovered a new mode of theorization that I propose to call ‘structural explication’. This is distinct from the generally dominant ‘linear’ mode of theorization—i.e., causal and quasi-causal explanations. I also argue that the standard criticisms usually directed against Hegel and Saussure stem from a failure to appreciate the nature of structural explication. For example, both Hegel and Saussure argue that—in some deep sense—form can generate content. But this must be comprehended in a strictly non-linear way. A linear interpretation of such arguments will lead to absurdities. I propose to call such deep generative structures (with a nod to Kant) the ‘necessary structures of possibility’. By comparing Hegel's thoughts on the science of a philosophical logic and Saussure's thoughts on the science of a general linguistics it is possible to discern a deep ‘scientific’ affinity. Furthermore, I argue that the structural level cannot be accounted for in any linear way. On the contrary, the linear explanation is fundamentally dependent on a structural explication of the genesis of the basic terms it assumes as ‘given’. A possible reason for the pervasiveness of the linear explanation (besides, perhaps, the success of causality-oriented natural sciences) is that discursive language is linear and our lived experience in time is linear. Thus, a structural explication will inherently appear less intuitive, and maybe also less ‘satisfying’, than a linear explanation. Finally, I also bring the distinction between the linear and the structural to bear on Robert Brandom's normative pragmatist reading of Hegel's ‘semantic holism’.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Aarsleff, H. (1982), From Locke to Saussure: Essays on the Study of Language and Intellectual History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Aarsleff, H. (2004), ‘Duality the Key: Saussure's Debt to Taine in Conceiving “The Double Essence of Language”’, Times Literary Supplement (20 August 2004).
Bowie, A. (1993), Schelling and Modern European Philosophy. London: Routledge.
Brandom, R. (2002), Tales of the Mighty Dead. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
Burns, T. (2000), ‘The Purloined Hegel: Semiology in the Thought of Saussure and Derrida’, History of the Human Sciences 13:4: 124.
Chaffin, D. (1989), ‘Hegel, Derrida and the Sign’, in Silverman, H. J. (ed.), Derrida and Deconstruction. London: Routledge.
Clarke, S. (1981), The Foundations of Structuralism: A Critique of Lévi-Strauss and the Structuralist Movement. Sussex: Harvester.
Cutrofello, A. (1991), ‘A Critique of Derrida's Hegel Deconstruction: Speech, Phonetic Writing and Hieroglyphic Script in Logic, Law, Art’, Clio 20:2: 123–37.
Davidson, D. (1963), ‘Actions, Reasons, and Causes’, The Journal of Philosophy 60:23: 685700.
De Man, P. (1982), ‘Sign and Symbol in Hegel's Aesthetics’, Critical Inquiry 8:4: 761–75.
Derrida, J. (1967), De la grammatologie. Paris: Minuit.
Derrida, J. (1972), ‘Le puits et la pyramide: introduction à la sémiologie de Hegel’, in Marges de la philosophie. Paris: Minuit.
Donougho, M. (1982), ‘The Semiotics of Hegel’, Clio 11:4: 415–30.
Engler, R. (ed.) (1967), Cours de linguistique générale: Edition critique. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
Frank, M. (1992), Der unendliche Mangel am Sein: Schellings Hegelkritik und die Anfänge der Marxschen Dialektik. Munich: Fink.
Frank, M. (1983), Was ist Neostrukturalismus? Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.
Gasparov, B. (2012), Beyond Pure Reason: Ferdinand de Saussure's Philosophy of Language and Its Early Romantic Antecedents. New York: Columbia University Press.
Gordon, W. T. (2004), ‘Langue and parole’, in Sanders, C. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Saussure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Henry, V. (1896), Antinomies linguistiques. Paris: Ancienne Librairie Germer Baillière.
Hjelmslev, L. (1943), Omkring sprogteoriens grundlæggelse. Copenhagen: Københavns Universitet Festskrift.
Jameson, F. (1972), The Prison House of Language: A Critical Account of Structuralism and Russian Formalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Joseph, J. E. (2003), ‘Pictet's Du beau (1856) and the Crystallisation of Saussurean Linguistics’, Historiographia Linguistica XXX:3: 365–88.
Joseph, J. E. (2004), ‘The Linguistic Sign’, in Sanders, C. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Saussure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Joseph, J. E. (2012), Saussure. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Koerner, E. F. K. (1973), Ferdinand de Saussure: Origin and Development of his Linguistic Thought in Western Studies of Language. Braunschweig: Vieweg.
Kripke, S. A. (1980), Naming and Necessity. Oxford: Blackwell.
Magnus, K. D. (2001), Hegel and the Symbolic Mediation of Spirit. Albany: SUNY Press.
Maniglier, P. (2006), La Vie énigmatique des signes: Saussure et la naissance du structuralisme. Paris: Léo Scheer.
Merquior, J. G. (1986), From Prague to Paris: A Critique of Structuralist and Post-structuralist Thought. London: Verso.
Norris, C. (1987), Derrida . London: Fontana.
Pippin, R. (1989), Hegel's Idealism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Prigogine, I. (1997), The End of Certainty. New York: The Free Press.
Russell, B. (1947), History of Western Philosophy. London: Allen and Unwin.
Saussure, F. de (2002), Écrits de linguistique générale. Paris: Gallimard.
Schelling, F. W. J. (1994), On the History of Modern Philosophy, trans. Bowie, A.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Schelling, F. W. J. (2007), The Grounding of Positive Philosophy, trans. Matthews, B.. New York: SUNY Press.
Tallis, R. (1988), Not Saussure. Houndmills: Macmillian.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

How to Make Content out of Form: Towards a Hegelian-Saussurean Theory of Non-Linear Structures of Possibility

  • Søren Rosendal (a1)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.