The field of language

Aron Gurwitsch and the functional analysis

Simone Aurora

pp. 105-127

Aron Gurwitsch is usually considered as a minor figure within what Herbert Spiegelberg has called “The Phenomenological Movement”; his theory of the field of consciousness, however, has played a great influence on the philosophies of Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty and is probably one of the most radical versions of a non-egological theory of consciousness. It is not by chance that Gurwitsch’s phenomenology explicitely borders with one of the most important structuralist schools of the 20th century, namely Gestalt theory. This is already apparent in Gurwitsch’s first important work, Phänomenologie der Thematik und des reinen Ichs, whose subtitle reads Studien über Beziehungen zwischen Gestalttheorie und Phänomenologie [Studies on the relation between gestalt theory and phenomenology]. Indeed, Gurwitsch studied in Frankfurt with the gestalt psychologists Kurt Goldstein and Adhemar Gelb, who were working on the psychological effects of brain injuries, with a focus on the phenomenon of amnestic aphasia. My contribution intends to show how Gurwitsch’s insights on amnestic aphasia are coherent with his broader theory of the field of consciousness, thus establishing the fundamentals of Gurwitsch functionalist theory of language, at the intersection between phenomenology and structuralism. More specifically, in the concluding remarks, I will show the epistemological solidarity between Gurwtisch’s philosophical project and structural semantics.

Publication details

DOI: 10.4000/hel.3541

Full citation:

Aurora, S. (2023). The field of language: Aron Gurwitsch and the functional analysis. Histoire Épistémologie Langage 45 (1), pp. 105-127.

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