The Living Being that has Language

Honoré Daumier – L’Exposition Universelle

“In the definition according to which man is the living being that has language, the decisive  element is clearly not life, but language [lingua].
And yet humans are unable to say what is involved for them in language as such, in the sheer fact that they speak. Although they more or less obscurely sense how inane it is to use speech in the way they mostly use it–often at random and without having anything to say, or to hurt each other–they obstinately continue to speak and transmit language to their progeny, without knowing whether this is the highest good or the worst of misfortunes.”

–Giorgio Agamben, What is Philosophy (trans.Lorenzo Chiesa)

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