Notes for a Sartrean phenomenology of speaking and being-spoken

F. Leoni

Dipartimento di Filosofia, Psicologia, Pedagogia, Università di Verona

Building on and extending Sartre’s last work, The Family Idiot (a biography of French novelist Flaubert), this paper considers the ways language may construct or disrupt the subjectivity of the speaker. Sartre’s understanding of Flaubert’s attitude toward language offers an extraordinary amount of material that allows us to answer the question about who is speaking when a subject utters a speech act. His answer is that it is always the Other who is speaking at the origin – until something occurs, which enables a subject to speak by himself and as a Self. Yet this being-spoken by the Other never fades away completely and can always come back, both as a creative resource (as with Flaubert) or as a constant, alienated and alienating foreground of our subjectivity. I argue that this state of alienation from the speech-act is apparent in disorders of self-affection, and especially in instances of verbal-acoustic hallucinations. 

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