9 On Silence BERNARD P. DAUENHAUER The University of Georgia Though the issue of language has for years been at centerstage for philosophers of many persuasions, an important facet of communication, namely silence, has largely gone unnoticed. Even when the phenomenon of silence has been noticed it has generally not been dealt with thematically. Heidegger, for instance, rapidly draws silence into his ontology. Merleau- Ponty alludes to silence cryptically and suggestively but hardly thematical- ly. To my knowledge Max Picard is the only recent thinker to examine in detail the positive phenomenon of silence.' But Picard's work, though seminal, does not provide a careful account of silence. In this paper I propose to begin, but by no means complete, the task of clarifying the phenomenon of silence. I will argue 1) that silence is a positive phenomenon which shows itself in a multiplicity of profiles, and 2) that the link between silence and sound expression2 is complex, that silence is not merely the background against which sound expression stands forth as figure. Then I will show, briefly, how the phenomenon of silence calls for an ontological interpretation. I will not, however, attempt to provide such an interpretation here.
Research in Phenomenology – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1973