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Are there philosophers working with the idea of language being ideological? If so, who, what specifically are their research interests, and what studies into it are available?

By 'ideology' I suppose mean the sense to it in critical theory. So, Marxist, how it masks etc. the mode of production.

I'd be especially interested in reading something that talks about moral value.

  • Regarding moral value: M.Rubel, Five Essays amazon.com/Rubel-Karl-Marx-Five-Essays/dp/0521238390 And T.B. Bottomore, M. Rubel Selected Writings in Sociology and Social Philosophy. amazon.com/… You should be able to find these books in a good library. – Gordon Oct 1 '18 at 16:53
  • You can waste a lot of time studying ideology. Marx himself did not give us a clear picture of the subject. Hegel had the notion, we could call ideology, properly understood, as the mere understanding. Mere bourgeois understanding. – Gordon Oct 1 '18 at 16:58
  • Another good book: "The Communist Ideal in Hegel and Marx", David MacGregor, Univ. Toronto Press, 1984. Rather astounding that such a book was written so late in the day. – Gordon Oct 1 '18 at 17:03
  • From the mere understanding springs ideology, and ideology is always false consciousness. True ideas (which grasp that A does not equal A) are not ideology. – Gordon Oct 1 '18 at 17:24
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It's a vast topic as you realise. It might be useful to point you initially in the direction of Noelle Bisseret. Her main views are indicated in the following review by David Hogan :

Language and ideology

For Bisseret, the language practices of bourgeois societies are systems of social discourses - social practices - that are ideologically structured and embody within them social relationships of dominance and subordination. She defines ideology as a "social discourse," not just a theory of the world, or a set of values, but a "system of practices" at the symbolic level of social life. The term "social relationships of dominance" "expresses a social relationship between groups so that the one, the dominated group, is submitted to a system of real constraints by the other, the dominant group, in the economic, political, juridical and ideological spheres" (3).

In Chapter 3, these two sets of claims are elaborated and defended in an analysis of the morphology and syntactic features of French. Drawing upon standard histories of the language (Brunot, Bauche, Sainean, Gougenheim, Frei), she describes first the development of a class discourse - bourgeois language - in France from the beginning of the seventeenth century until its eventual triumph - "hegemony" - both politically and linguistically, in the nineteenth century. The "bourgeoisie expressed and imposed their world vision by their manipulation of the language"(75). This bourgeois language was characterized above all by an implicit individualistic metaphysics in which "man" became "the center of reference for the defining and ordering of other categories," thereby generating a demand for new linguistic forms that The grammatical subject, therefore, came into its own at the same time as man became the referent for the social discourse . . . a new ideology was being born ... among other social practices, in language practices. The idea of the individual as subject did not get under way until the eighteenth century, but the notion that history was made by active wills had alrea the bourgeoisie or its linguistic agents, the grammarians, were able to dictate. The grammatical subject became articulated and assumed a preponderant position in the sentence; personal pronouns replaced collective pronouns; verbs ceased to be passive and reflected the creation of history by active wills; the idea of logical analysis appeared: compulsory word order within phrases, in which the subject came first, reflected a hierarchy among words, corresponding to the new rationalized hierarchy of social class of bourgeois society. Bisseret concludes:

The grammatical subject, therefore, came into its own at the same time as man became the referent for the social discourse . . . a new ideology was being born ... among other social practices, in language practices. The idea of the individual as subject did not get under way until the eighteenth century, but the notion that history was made by active wills had already spread through the bourgeoisie at the same time as it had read possibilities to exercise power (76).

Bisseret argues, however, that among the "dominated" classes different language practices appear (whether they might have simply persisted from the Ancien Regime is not considered). These practices reflect their subordinate position in the society, and are characterized by a speech form "more centered on a process expressed by the verb, on a representation of an action taking place here and now, which is experienced as much as acted out by an anonymous and collective whole"(75). Only the dominant express themselves as subjects of their speech and organize their language around the subject, the self, the speaker's person, "which coincides with the I of the social referent." In the language of the dominated, on the other hand, the world is not organized in reference to the speaker's I; sometimes the possessive pronoun is left out, sometimes the possessive pronoun of the first person is replaced by that of the third. Whereas in the language of the dominant, the subject of the verb is accorded the central position in a phrase, in the language of the dominated the subject of an action fades into the background, leaving the process expressed by the verb. It is a language which "decenters" the subject. (David Hogan, ' Education, Class Language, and Ideology by Noelle Bisseret', Language in Society, Vol. 9, No. 3 (Dec., 1980), pp. 393-398 : 394-5.)

Language, ideology and moral values

Nicholas Abercrombie and Bryan S. Turner refer (admittedly sceptically) to :

the conventional view is that there was a dominant ideology which infected the working class. It is suggested, for example, that individualism, especially as expressed in the doctrines of the British utilitarians, was the key component of the dominant ideology of the bourgeoisie and penetrated all features of bourgeois political economy, morality and religion. Bourgeois political economy (laissez faire, the night-watchman state, the individual conscience) is usually regarded as the dominant ideology of a social class which was economically and politically triumphant after 1850. (Nicholas Abercrombie and Bryan S. Turner, 'The Dominant Ideology Thesis', The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Jun., 1978), pp. 149-170 : 155-6.)

In my view Abercrombie and Turner are unduly, dismissively sceptical but that is a issue for another time.

___________________________________________________________________________

Reading

Noelle Bisseret, Education, Class Language, and Ideology, Published by Routledge & Kegan Paul Books (1979) ISBN 10: 0710001185 ISBN 13: 9780710001184.

David Hogan, ' Education, Class Language, and Ideology by Noelle Bisseret', Language in Society, Vol. 9, No. 3 (Dec., 1980), pp. 393-398.

Nicholas Abercrombie and Bryan S. Turner, 'The Dominant Ideology Thesis', The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Jun., 1978), pp. 149-170.

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Much depends on who is considered to be a philosopher and what is language. In a nutshell language is form and substance, rules and instantiations, syntax and semantics. There is a formalistic trend that gives more weight to syntax (Saussurians, Chomsky), and a naturalistic one that considers communication as more important (engineers, Wittgensteinians)

At a later (post-structuralist) stage of his career Roland Barthes famously declared[1]:

“Language is neither reactionary nor progressive; it is quite simply fascist; for fascism does not prevent speech, it compels speech.”

An earlier idea has been clearly formulated by Roman Jakobsons

Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey. On linguistic aspects of translation (1959)

or

Thus the true difference between languages is not in what may or may not be expressed but in what must or must not be conveyed by the speakers." [2]

The poetic 'rebellion' against language is a whole chapter in 19th c. history of literature that created a string connection between romanticism and philosophy. Nietsche's saying (from Twilight of the Idols) is rather popular[3]

“I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.”

A late and weighty contribution to the topic is to be found in Heidegger's writings.

[1]Roland Barthes, The Neutral: Lecture Course at the Collège de France, 1977-1978 [2] Jakobson, Roman (1959) 'Boas' view of grammatical meaning' Selected Writings vol. II, The Hague: Mouton. 489-496. p.492. [3]Walter Kaufmann, ed.,The Portable Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols/ Penguin, 1082 p 483

  • sorry, but i didn't find your answer very helpful. e.g., syntax is not all there is to the rules of a language. 'rebellion against language' turns up google hits on wittgenstein and barthes, 20th century philosophers, not romantic poets, who were more it seems concerned with social rebellion. it seems wrong to say that Wittgenstein is more concerned with meaning ("my propositions are nonsense") than the rules of language. etc – user34654 Aug 30 '18 at 20:59

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