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published on February 28, 2014

Joseph Keeping

Joyful Rhythm
Emotion, Expression, and the Birth of Meaning in Merleau-Ponty

Recently much attention has been paid to the concept of expression in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy and its role in his theories of language, art, history, and truth. However, most authors have considered expression only as a mode of language. This paper attempts to show that a full understanding of Merleau-Ponty’s concept of expression, and in particular the problem of how new meanings can be created out of existing language, is possible only by considering the role of emotional gesture in expression. It does so by interpreting Merleau-Ponty’s writings on emotion and expression through a phenomenology of a particular emotion, specifically joy.

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