2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Language and Self-Expression

I was compelled to write this project by a pattern of observations relating to the nature of language that began surfacing in the works of various philosophers, after having read the work of Wittgenstein. To cite some examples, from Arendt: ‘language, the medium of thought’ ; from Breton: ‘the speed of thought is no greater than that of speech, and does not necessarily defy capture in language’ . From my own experience, thought always seeks to transcend the limitations of language, and sensation can never find its perfect expression in speech. Yet it is true that the principal method by which we communicate these thoughts and sensations is language, and further for Arendt, the internal communication of these phenomena through a dialogue with ourselves is the very thing that makes us human. These observations highlight a tension inherent in all of us. The desire to express our humanity enters into direct conflict with the limitations of language. The aim of this essay will be to discuss this conflict. I hope to highlight some of the functions of language in thought, and to establish the possibility of achieving genuine self-expression through language in spite of its inherently communitarian nature. This the nature of the topics discussed prohibits me from offering some definitive conclusion; the essay is intended primarily as an exploration of the paradoxical relationship between the necessity of language, and our desire to escape its limitations.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

“Where Flash Becomes Word and Silents Selfloud”: the Language of Finnegans Wake

The obscure, polysemic, multi-lingual, syntactically nonstandard style of writing in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake has polarised critics even since before the time of the book’s full release. The ongoing debates surrounding the work raise philosophical questions about the limits of language and the nature of art and literature. This essay explores possible philosophical justifications for using such a style, and enquires whether it might offer unique artistic possibilities, unavailable to clearer, more conventional styles.

Beginning from Heidegger’s theory of art, the essay explores the distinction between the Heideggerian concepts of “world” and “earth”, arguing that the book inverts the standard function of language as embodying a socio-historical “world”, instead turning it into a force which represents the “ungraspable”, impenetrable, nature of “earth”.

The essay then examines the Wake with reference to Blanchot’s work on literature, finding that the techniques of emphasising the physicality of language, as well as fragmenting a work into pieces whose only relation is difference – which Blanchot claims constitute are essential for a literary work to represent things in their “free, silent existence” – are utilised in extreme ways and to unique ends in the Wake.

2011 Abstracts Stage 3

Does Art Succeed where Language Fails? Art as the Vehicle for the Expression of Emotion

I aim to see why we as humans ever need to say such phrases and is it at this point that art comes to the fore.

I will use the following Philosophers:
Heidegger M. On the Way to Language. 1982. Harper Collins Basic Writings: Martin Heidegger. Ed. David Farrell Krell. 2010. Routledge.

Mugerauer R. Heidegger’s Language and Thinking. 1991. Humanities Press International.

Van der Heiden G-J. The Truth (and Untruth) of Language. 2010. Duquesne University Press.

Silverman D. and Torode B. The Material Word. 1980. Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Derrida J. Writing and Difference. 2010. Routledge.

Derrida J. Of Grammatology. 1997. John Hopkins University Press.

Basic Writings: Jean-Paul Sartre. Ed. Stephen Priest. 2006. Routledge.

A Nietzsche Reader. Ed. Hollingdale R.J. 1977. Penguin Classics.

Gadamer H-G. Truth and Method. 2006. Continuum

2011 Abstracts Stage 3

Féiniúlacht, Teanga agus Cultúr: Identity, Language and Culture in Ireland

The trinity of identity, language and culture have always been one of my fascinations. This interest stems from the fact I myself am descended from bilingual Gaelic speaking Irish immigrants, and growing up in North-East England, I am fully familiar with an English dialect barely comprehensible by most native English speakers taken in its purest form.

Ireland, with its rich shifting linguistic and cultural history is an ideal backdrop for these concepts to be given a concrete context. Therefore using the linguistic situation in Ireland I aim to:

1. Examine the extent of the relationship between language and identity of both the individual and the collective culture which the individual ascribes to;
2. Examine the evolution of the meaning of language from a pre-modern to a modern globalising world;
3. In doing so identify the causes and implications of language shift.

The thinkers I will employ are firstly; Pierre Bourdieu, with his ideas of habitus, and social and cultural capital to help explain how language and culture shifts due to market forces. Secondly I will look at Karl Marx’s notion of commodity fetishism and see the implications of extending commodity fetishism to the cultural and social market. Finally I will take Deleuze & Guattari’s concept of minor language and minor literature and apply it to the Irish Literary Revival, in the process showing how novel discourses and identities can be formed from the deterritorialization of post-colonial Ireland.