Language and emotion in Merleau-Ponty

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This chapter explores the relationship between language and emotion inMaurice Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy. Three key aspects stand out. First, sexuality,broadly understood as affectivity and desire, motivates us to address otherpersons and transcend our situation. Language is rooted in embodiment andis intimately part of us. Second, gesture and expression show how meaningrelies on the overall Gestalt of a language and its aesthetic dimensions. Meaningis first musical, and the seemingly transparent has first been expressed in aparticular situation. Third, language in early childhood demonstrates howunderstanding presupposes a willingness to take risks and is an act of participation.For Merleau-Ponty, then, language is primarily speech, and the arts andchildhood illuminate its emotional dimension.


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