Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Body language and the body of language: Corporeality, subjectivity, and language in Johann Georg Hamann
by Goesser, Julia, Ph.D., New York University, 2009, 193; 3380287
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation addresses the centrality of sensual perception to the constitution of subjectivity and the resulting relationship between subjectivity and language in the work of Johann Georg Hamann. In positing the body as that which conditions a subject's encounter with the world, Hamann, I argue, prefigures a notion of finite subjectivity that not only runs counter to the Enlightenment tradition, but also reemerges in nineteenth (Kierkegaard, Nietzsche) and twentieth century discourses (Benjamin) on the tension between subjectivity and the abstraction of language. The paradox at the heart of my investigation is Hamann's radical circumscription of reason as expressed through language, which nevertheless attempts to recuperate the concept of universal meaning through faith. Language is wrested away from abstraction and, therefore, any universality, and becomes the expression of the finite, corporeal subjectivity, a state of limitation that is at once granted and resolved by a divine creator. I argue that Hamann's severe restriction of a hermeneutic horizon, never reaching beyond the ground of sensual perception, precariously leads to the inevitability of faith as the only access to universal meaning. This method of accessing universality by way of the particular is both echoed structurally and stripped of the precondition of faith in the work of Nietzsche, a comparison integral to my tracking of Hamann's notions of corporeality and language into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fleming, Paul
Commitee: Goebel, Eckart, Hamilton, John, North, Paul, Ulfers, Friedrich
School: New York University
Department: German
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 70/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Germanic literature, Philosophy
Keywords: Anti-Enlightenment, Corporeality, German, Hamann, Johann Georg, Language, Philosophy, Subjectivity
Publication Number: 3380287
ISBN: 9781109507362
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