In his Geneva lectures in November 1891, Saussure stated a sort of “paradox of the will,” saying: “Can linguistic facts be said to be the result of acts of will? That is the question. The current science of language gives a positive answer. However, one should add immediately that ... the linguistic act, if I might call it that, is characterized as being the least reflected on, the least premeditated, as well as the most impersonal of all.” This issue – shared with Michel Bréal – remains important in Saussure’s thought until the end, and it is possible to read some of the most important pages of his works in the light of this paradox – a kind of free will problem in a linguistic fashion. Such a focus on the will opens a different perspective on semiology (“For the distinguishing characteristic of the sign – but the one that is least apparent at first sight – is that in some way it always eludes the individual or social will”– as we read in the Course), reassesses the status of notions like “institution” and “arbitrariness” and allows a (critical) comparison with other paradigms in the current debate of social ontology (e.g., Searle’s account).

SAUSSURE AND THE WILL

FADDA, EMANUELE
2017

Abstract

In his Geneva lectures in November 1891, Saussure stated a sort of “paradox of the will,” saying: “Can linguistic facts be said to be the result of acts of will? That is the question. The current science of language gives a positive answer. However, one should add immediately that ... the linguistic act, if I might call it that, is characterized as being the least reflected on, the least premeditated, as well as the most impersonal of all.” This issue – shared with Michel Bréal – remains important in Saussure’s thought until the end, and it is possible to read some of the most important pages of his works in the light of this paradox – a kind of free will problem in a linguistic fashion. Such a focus on the will opens a different perspective on semiology (“For the distinguishing characteristic of the sign – but the one that is least apparent at first sight – is that in some way it always eludes the individual or social will”– as we read in the Course), reassesses the status of notions like “institution” and “arbitrariness” and allows a (critical) comparison with other paradigms in the current debate of social ontology (e.g., Searle’s account).
SAUSSURE; WILL; INSTITUTION
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11770/140243
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