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Beyond Pure ReasonFerdinand de Saussure's Philosophy of Language and Its Early Romantic Antecedents$
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Boris Gasparov

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231157803

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231157803.001.0001

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Freedom and Mystery—the Peripathetic Nature of Language

(p.170) Conclusion
Beyond Pure Reason

Boris Gasparov

Columbia University Press

This concluding chapter sums up the principal ingredients of Saussure's intellectual world: its drive for differentiations, inherited from the age of empiricism; a reductive epistemological critique that reflected the dominant trend in turn-of-the-century metaphysics and philosophy of science, in which Saussure came particularly close to Husserl's transcendental reduction; Cassirer's philosophy of symbolic forms; Frege's (1892) distinction between the intrasystemic sense (Sinn) and the referential meaning (Bedeutung); and, finally, an inspiring yet disconcerting mixture of reflective sobriety and longing for the absolute, of devastating fragmentariness punctuated by moments of miraculous revelatory integration, which constituted a thread connecting Saussure to early Romanticism. This volatile combination constituted a peculiar phenomenon in the intellectual landscape of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, one that stood in manifold relations with many events and trends of the time, yet escaped identification with any of them.

Keywords:   Ferdinand de Saussure, language, linguistics, empiricism, metaphysics, Husserl, Cassirer, Frege, Romanticism

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