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It is a commonplace assumption that there are realities and types of experience words are just not able to handle. I find the recourse to ineffability to be an evasive tactic and argue that there is inherently nothing beyond words and that this fact has ethical implications. I offer three theoretical considerations in support of my claim. The first two deal with the infinite nature of language itself, as understood first in Chomsky and then Derrida. The third deals with the linguistically structured nature of human experience. Expanding on Heidegger, I then draw some ethical implications from language’s inexhaustibility.
- Acocella, Joan. “Cloud Nine: A New Translation of the Paradiso.” The New Yorker, September 3, 2007. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/09/03/cloud-nine.
- Ahearne, Jeremy. Michel de Certeau: Interpretation and Its Other. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995.
- Alighieri, Dante. Paradiso. Translated by Jean Hollander and Robert Hollander. New York: Doubleday, 2007.
- Certeau, Michel de. The Practice of Everyday Life. Translated by Steven Rendall. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1984.
- Certeau, Michel de. “Mystic Speech,” Heterologies. Translated. by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1986.
- Certeau, Michel de. The Mystic Fable. Translated by Michael B. Smith. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.
- Chomsky, Noam. The Architecture of Language. Edited by Nirmalangshu Mukherji, Bibudhendra Narayan Patnaik and Rama Kant Agnihotri. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
- Chomsky, Noam, Marc D. Hauser, and W. Tecumseh Fitch. “The Faculty of Language: What Is it, Who Has it, and How Did it Evolve?” Science 298 (2002): 1569–1579.
- Craig, Edward. Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. London: Routledge, 1998.
- Croce, Arlene. “Balanchine Said.” The New Yorker, January 26, 2009. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/01/26/balanchine-said.
- Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976.
- Derrida, Jacques. Dissemination. Translated by Barbara Johnson, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.
- Derrida, Jacques. “Signature Event Context.” In Margins of Philosophy, translated by Alan Bass, 307–330. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982.
- Derrida, Jacques. “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences.” In A Postmodern Reader, edited by Joseph Natoli and Linda Hutcheon, 223–242. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993.
- Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language. Translated by A. M. Sheridan Smith, New York: Pantheon Books, 1972.
- Heidegger, Martin. “On the Essence of Truth,” translated by R. F. C. Hull and Alan Crick. In Existence and Being. Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1949.
- Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. New York: Harper & Row, 1962.
- Heidegger, Martin. “The Way to Language.” In On the Way to Language, translated by Peter D. Hertz, 111–136. New York: Harper and Row, 1971.
- Heidegger, Martin. Poetry, Language, Thought. translated by Albert Hofstadter. New York: Perennial Classics, 2001.
- James, William. The Varieties of Religious Experience. New York: Collier Books, 1961.
- McGrath, Sean J. “Heidegger and Duns Scotus on Truth and Language.” Review of Metaphysics 57, no. 2 (2003) 339–358. doi:10.2307/20131978.
- McWhorter, Ladelle. “Sex, Race, and Biopower: A Foucauldian Genealogy.” Hypatia, 19, no. 3 (2004): 38–62. doi:10.1111/j.1527-2001.2004.tb01301.x.
- Natoli, Joseph, and Linda Hutcheon, eds. A Postmodern Reader. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993.
- Sheehan, Thomas. “Martin Heidegger.” In Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward Craig, 307–323. London: Routledge, 1998.
- Stevens, Wallace. The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play. Edited by Holly Stevens. New York: Vintage, 1967.
- Stravinsky, Igor, and Robert Craft. Dialogues and a Diary. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1963.
- Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Wittgenstein's Tractatus. Translated by Daniel Kolak. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 1998.
- Yeats, William Butler. Selected Poems and Two Plays of William Butler Yeats. Edited by M. L. Rosenthal, New York: Collier Books, 1962.
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