Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Revolution of the OrdinaryLiterary Studies after Wittgenstein, Austin, and Cavell$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Toril Moi

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226464305

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226464589.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use (for details see www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 18 October 2018

Saussure

Saussure

Language, Sign, World

Chapter:
(p.113) 5 Saussure
Source:
Revolution of the Ordinary
Author(s):

Toril Moi

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226464589.003.0006

While Saussure set out to found linguistics as a science, Wittgenstein sought to understand our lives in language. For this reason, their different visions of language don’t directly compete. This chapter re-assesses Saussure’s concepts of language, speech and speaking; reconsiders the theory of the split sign (the idea that the sign consists of signifier and signified) and its further development in the post-Saussurean concept of the “mark”, or the so-called “materiality of the signifier.” It provides a fresh look at the claim that the “sign is arbitrary,” and investigates the status of the concept of “reference” in Saussure’s work. The chapter shows that Benveniste misreads Saussure in his famous analysis of the Saussurean sign, and criticizes Kirby’s and Meisel and Saussy’s recent “new materialist” readings of Saussure, which it sees as the latest chapter in the long history of post-Saussurean attempts to “philosophize” Saussure. Post-Saussurean readings of Saussure exemplify the “Augustinian picture of language” criticized by Wittgenstein. Casting language as a self-contained system of differences, such readings divorce language from the world, fail to account for the role of speakers, and produce a wholly skeptical vision of language.

Keywords:   Ferdinand de Saussure, Augustinian picture of language, Emile Benveniste, new materialism, Vicki Kirby, the mark, arbitrariness of the sign, reference, materiality of the signifier, post-Saussurean theory

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.