Chapter

Linguistic Foundations of the Quest

Robert M. Torrance

in The Spiritual Quest

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 1994 | ISBN: 9780520081321
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520920163 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520081321.003.0003
Linguistic Foundations of the Quest

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This chapter argues that self-transcendence inherent in life and intensified by consciousness can attain full expression only through the exclusively human medium of speech, which gives the inchoate questing impulse flexibly structured communicable form. Even though its object may be finally inexpressible, the fully human quest presupposes the creative agency of the word—or sentence—that allows the always-potential future to become the goal of present actions. That language might be essential to the search for an indeterminate future is barely conceivable in the structuralist linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and his school, dominant throughout much of the twentieth century. Above all—and from this, both arbitrariness and immutability follow—langue is a self-contained and hence a closed system, cut off from the external world.

Keywords: self-transcendence; consciousness; speech; quest; word; actions; language; linguistics; Ferdinand de Saussure; langue

Chapter.  7651 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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