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Paul Celan, metaphor and reality

By E.H. Kraaijeveld


I claim that a phenomenological reading of Celan presents arguments to formulate a theory of truth as correspondence that does not fall into the drawbacks of traditional theories of truth as correspondence. I start my thesis with a discussion of Celan’s view on metaphor. Why is it so particular? His distinct use of metaphor and his viewpoints on metaphor are actually critique against traditional correspondence relations. Next, I discuss Nietzsche’s argument on metaphor. A reason for this is that his views on metaphor are an example that shows why traditional theories of correspondence are not convincing. I also demonstrate that Nietzsche’s alternative lies in a highly creative use of metaphor, and that, in a way, this is precisely what Celan’s poems practice. Celan’s poetry is known for its impenetrability which is, in part, the result of a highly innovative use of metaphors. Despite this, reading his poetry does not lead to an absurd or ridiculous reading experience, but to a meaningful and compelling one. I claim that the concept of ‘authenticity’ is very appropriate in bringing those standards together that characterize meaningful use of metaphor in Celan. The fact that Celan allows for, and asks for, authenticity, indicates that a metaphor can have a truth claim, even if this is a truth claim based on characteristics other than traditional correspondence relations. This is the reason why I have posed a critical question to his project: Can't we still detect remainders of correspondence in Celan, and how do we, consequently, have to reassess the way we think about a possible correspondence theory of truth? I display that concepts borrowed from Edmund Husserl provide a key for a possible theory of truth as correspondence formulated on the basis of Celan’s views. I specify what the main challenges are for such a theory, and I analyse concepts from Husserl’s phenomenology to provide an answer to these challenges. This leads to a candidate of a theory of truth as correspondence that is based on Celan’s views on metaphor and supports his standards

Topics: phenomenology, correspondence theory of truth, aesthetic experience, metaphor, authenticity
Year: 2016
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