Master of Arts (MA)
Philosophy and Religious Studies
In this thesis, I address the question of Heidegger’s rejection of metaphor, alleging most of the commentary on this rejection has failed to confront its substance. In particular, I focus on two different interpretations, one given by Paul Ricoeur and the other by Jacques Derrida. Both of these accounts place Heidegger’s rejection in a model of language structured by the sign relation; however, I contend Heidegger rejects metaphor precisely in order to overcome this model of language. Heidegger's few references to metaphor occur within attempts to rethink the very nature of our being-in-the-world and our relationship to language; that is, he hopes to think the co-belonging of language and body. As such, metaphor is not the best avenue to interpret Heidegger's peculiar language, particularly when such language occurs during the course of his thinking of the bodily articulation of speech. Likewise, it is most appropriate to locate Heidegger’s rejection of metaphor in the context of a thinking of the co-belonging of language and body. Neither Ricoeur nor Derrida take this into account, focusing instead on the status of Heidegger’s language in general. But Heidegger does not claim that we are never to read any of his language as metaphorical or figurative, only not to do so when he is engaged in thinking the co-belonging of body and language (the essence of language). As such, it is impossible to make a blanket assertion regarding the status of the whole range of Heidegger’s language. Heidegger takes pains to make clear we are not to understand his statements regarding the relationship of body and language as metaphorical, since this would retain the very model of language and body he hopes to overcome and think beyond. Ultimately, we see that Heidegger’s rejection of metaphor is linked to his attempt to rethink the essence of language and the human being’s relationship to it; in the process, he provides a point of departure for a radical rethinking of human experience.
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Meservy, Joel, "Heidegger, metaphor, and the essence of language" (2014). LSU Master's Theses. 277.