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Language is the starting point of Vilém Flusser’s philosophy. He regards himself as a subject who is bodenlos [without rm ground], and the experience of language is for him the only firm ground he knows. The German language is Flusser’s form of ontology. When he uses the term Bodenlosigkeit to designate a possibility of overcoming reality and reality is actually constructed via language, one realizes that he has left the Czech language behind, assimilated English and German, and then thrown himself into experiencing the Portuguese language.

In his first book, Língua e Realidade [Language and Reality] (1963), Vilém Flusser makes a concerted effort to “create awareness of the structure of this limited cosmos” (Língua e Realidade, 2010, p. 33; translated from the Portuguese) that is identified with language. Language assembles the aspects of the cosmos referred to as knowledge, reality, and truth. Language is a concept that encompasses both mathematics and poetry and goes beyond both. Science is contained in language. And at the same time, language is like an artwork: something is created through a personal, temporary, or historical expression. We create language and are simultaneously created by language. This does not mean, however, that language mirrors reality. Every language is an open system, allowing the possibility of translation, poetry, and ontology.

Flusser speaks of reality under two aspects: raw or immediate data on the one hand, and words on the other. We can talk about a reality of raw data that arrives in the brain, where thought is developed and shaped in the form of words. But raw data is nothing but a myth, because raw data depends on words if one wants to use it to create a world. The world of words, therefore, is an organized reality, a cosmos. What this structure permits, is conversation – the “coming and going” of language. Philosophizing is an action that takes place within the potential of a given language. For Flusser, Western philosophy is the conversation of many languages among themselves. This conversation is our most radical ontological basis.

Original article by Marcia Tiburi

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language.txt · Last modified: 2021/11/05 17:47 (external edit)