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Title:Wittgenstein, Merleau-Ponty, and the Poetic Gestalt
Author(s):Kaha, Catherine Waite
Department / Program:Speech Communication
Discipline:Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Speech Communication
Abstract:Between the work of Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty there exists a correspondence. That correspondence is drawn out and placed within a gestalt. The poetry and essays of three modern American poets are used to support and develop the gestalt. The dissertation is divided into three sections: (I) Philosophers and Poets, (II) Foreground and Background, (III) Order and Disorder.
The first section begins with a comparison of Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty. The question to be addressed is how to account for significant similarities and differences, rather than simply stating that these philosophers either agree or disagree. Quotes from the essays and letters of the poets Nemerov, Stevens, and Merwin are presented to establish a common ground between philosopher and poet. In each instance, a concern with meaning foreshadows the question of how the world lends support to our words.
The second section turns to a fundamental distinction between the philosophers: that one asks his questions of language, while the other asks his questions of perception. This distinction is reduced to that which is 'seen' and that which is 'said'. Specific poems are introduced to establish the way in which poetry draws upon both that which is seen and that which is said. The gestalt is a response to the differing philosophical traditions, and a device which emphasizes the question of what is deeply shared, or what supports the gestalt. A discussion of rule-following and the prereflective indicate the way in which these two essential aspects of philosophy call for the other.
The third section turns on an investigation of those structures which would lend support to the gestalt. It becomes evident that rule-following and the prereflective require a necessary ambiguity. Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty's perspectives give an account of the impossibility of a fully systematized account of language and perception. Orderly systems must entail elements of disorder, or ambiguity. For without such disorder the system, formula, or calculus can move only in one direction, towards greater clarity, which necessarily includes rigidity. Disorder allows for the emergence of new forms, new meanings.
Issue Date:1986
Description:212 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1986.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8623338
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-05-13
Date Deposited:1986

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