Sprogets magt: En sprogfilosofisk analyse af præstationssamfundet

Matti Ben-Porat

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Present thesis takes its departure from the sociologist Alain Ehrenberg’s and the philosopher Byung Chul-Han’s description of the performance society. Both theorists perceive of mental illnesses such as depression, stress and anxiety as paramount problems in the contemporary western societies. These problems are argued to be related to predominant tendencies in these societies. From this starting point, the thesis examines how the predominant tendencies in our society influence our language and how our language perpetuates these tendencies. It argues that in order to understand how language and society are interrelated, one must perceive lan-guage as deeply dependent on its social context. Through the description of the postmodern society that the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard provides, it is shown that our language is subject to forces of the economic market which causes all the elements of the language to be commensurable. Furthermore, based on the philosophers Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, it is explained how language is not to be understood as a tool to communicate information, but as giving orders. Thus, it is established that language in its very nature is performative. By way of empirical examples it is illustrated how our language reflects the tendencies of our society, and that this very language imposes on us to perform on a high and individualised level, but also at the same time to perform on the premises of the economic market. Through the epistemological work of the philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer, language is presented as the medium and precondition of our epistemological understanding of the world. Thus, above tendencies in our language perpetuate what this thesis frames as the para-dox of language of the performance society: On the one hand it holds the imperative to per-form well and in a unique manner, and on the other hand the commensurability of the lan-guage does not allow for epistemological recognition of the unique character of our perfor-mances. Finally, based on the philosopher Axel Honneths theory of recognition (in the sense of acknowledgement), it is concluded that this paradox is a cause for the rising number of depressed people.

EducationsMSc in Philosophy, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2014
Number of pages78