Language Pangs: On Pain and the Origin of Language

ISBN : 9780190053864

Ilit Ferber
200 ページ
156 x 235 mm

We usually think about language and pain as opposites, the one being about expression and connection, the other destructive, "beyond words" so to speak, and isolating. Language Pangs challenges these familiar conceptions and offers a radical reconsideration of the relationship between pain and language in terms of an essential interconnectedness. Ilit Ferber's premise is that we cannot probe the experience of pain without taking account its inherent relation to language; and vice versa, that our understanding of the nature of language essentially depends on how we take account of its correspondence with pain. Language Pangs brings together discussions of philosophical as well as literary texts, an intersection that is especially productive in considering the phenomenology of pain and its bearing on language. Ferber explores a phenomenology of pain and its relation to language, before providing a unique close reading of Johann Gottfried Herder's Treatise on the Origin of Language, the first modern philosophical text to consider language and pain, establishing the cry of pain as the origin of language. Herder also raises important claims regarding the relationship between human and animal, questions of sympathy and the role of hearing in the expression of pain. Beyond Herder, the book grapples with the work of other profound thinkers, including Martin Heidegger, Stanley Cavell, and Andre Gide, and finally, Sophocles, from them weaving new insights on the experience of pain, expression, sympathy, and hearing.


Chapter 1. On Pain and the Origin of Language
Chapter 2. A Language of Pain: Herder and the Origin of Language
Chapter 3. Language and Attention: Herder on Besonnenheit
Chapter 4. Language and Hearing: Heidegger's Herder
Chapter 5. Pain, Expression and Sympathy: Philoctetes
Chapter 6. Language Pangs


Ilit Ferber is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Tel-Aviv University. She is the author of Philosophy and Melancholy: Benjamin's Early Reflections on Theater and Language (Stanford University Press, 2013) and co-editor of three books on the philosophy of moods and on the language of lament. She has published numerous articles on Leibniz, Herder, Freud, Benjamin, Heidegger, Scholem, and Amery.