Paradoxes of Linguistic Violence
On the ethico-political turn to language
Dr. Gerald Posselt
Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna
Visiting Scholar, UCD Department of French
Thursday, October 1, 4:30pm
Although language has been one of the main issues of 20th-century philosophy, and violence has been at the center of interdisciplinary research at least since the 1960s, remarkably the relation of language and violence has been largely neglected until the end of the 20th century. In contrast, there has been a significant interest in the questions of linguistic violence and vulnerability in recent years: From insulting utterances and injurious speech, religious and political forms of propaganda and hate speech across structural forms of discrimination to hitherto unknown forms of violence that often go along with new media, we are confronted with a wide variety of different forms of linguistic violence in our everyday life.
This presentation will argue that linguistic violence is not a secondary form of violence, but rather a form of violence in its own right in which the intrinsic relation of language and violence becomes manifest and that therefore can serve as a key for a more fundamental understanding both of language and of violence. Such an understanding provides a non-reductionist account of language that allows us to consider language, along with its cognitive-communicative function, in its social, ethical and political dimensions – as becomes obvious in such phenomena as interpellation, testimony, differend, disagreement, or especially parrhesia as a mode of speaking out and seizing the word (Foucault) that manifests itself, among others, in the recent cases of “whistle blowing” by Manning and Snowden.
Gerald Posselt, PhD. (University of Freiburg, Germany), is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Vienna and principal investigator of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) research project “Language and Violence.” He is currently Visiting Scholar in the Department of French at UC Davis for the fall quarter 2015.
His research interests include Philosophy of Language, Rhetoric, Political Philosophy, with special interest in Modern Philosophy (Locke, Nietzsche), Contemporary Philosophy, Structuralist and Poststructuralist Theories (Foucault, Derrida, Butler).
His publications include among others: Katachrese. Rhetorik des Performativen (Munich: Fink 2005), Sprachphilosophie. Eine Einführung (UTB 2015, forthcoming, together with Matthias Flatscher), Handbuch Rhetorik und Philosophie (de Gruyter, forthcoming, ed. together with Andreas Hetzel). He is also editor and co-translator of the German edition of Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left by Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj Žižek (Vienna: Turia & Kant 2013).