2023 年 27 巻 p. 39-58
Maurice Merleau-Ponty wrote a brief reading note on Sartre’s “There and Back” (Aller et retour), which is a review of Brice Parain’s book Research on the Nature and Function of Language (Recherches sur la nature et les fonctions du langage). In this book, Parain proposes a language constructivist view of our experience of the world, arguing the problem of silence. In opposition to this view, Sartre insists that the foundation of existence of things is not language, but consciousness, and that there is a “silence of consciousness” that constitutes things without the mediation of language. He also argues against Parain’s reasoning concerning “transcendence of language,” the fact that language seems to impose its own norm to us despite our will. Parain attempted to explain it through God’s creation of language. Sartre denies the notion of God and contends that the transcendence of language results from the existence of others. In the reading note, Merleau-Ponty agrees with Sartre that there is pre-linguistic order of experience. However, he objects that the constitution of things is not carried out via active and transparent consciousness as Sartre conceived, but through a temporal structure of subjectivity that introduces passivity into subjectivity itself. According to him, the “transcendence of language” must also be understood as a part of the problem of temporality. Furthermore, Merleau-Ponty objects to Sartre by arguing that he ignored the difference between silent experience and linguistic experience by treating both things and language as objects that the consciousness forms mutely. Obviously, there are various impressive cases where language alters experience; hence, we must consider that silent consciousness and linguistic consciousness are distinct from each other, and there is a transformation in experience via language. Through such discussions, Merleau-Ponty attempts to propose a theory of language and silence that integrates Parain’s language constructivist view and Sartre’s conception of silence and others.