Central and East European
Society for Phenomenology

Conference | Paper

“Now is the Night.” Deixis in Hegel and Maldiney

Anna Yampolskaya

Thursday 2 December 2021

11:30 - 12:10

Zoom 1-1

I discuss Henry Maldiney’s critique of Hegel’s approach to deixis, which lies at the core of the analysis of sensuous certainty in The Phenomenology of Spirit. Specifically, I analyze Maldiney’s claim that deixis should not be considered separately from common sensuous and affective experience of the shared world, and therefore from communication. In the first section, I study Erwin Straus’ influence on Maldiney concerning the communicative character of sense experience. The second section exposes the logical structure of Hegel’s experiment with writing down the statement “now is the night.” This experiment is related to the question, whether the adverbs “here,” “now,” as well as the personal pronoun “I,” have a general linguistic function discovered by Husserl, Jakobson, and Benveniste. It transpires that Maldiney’s analysis is incomplete; missing links to fix his argument are supplied. The last section is devoted to Maldiney’s treatment of deixis and his concept of subjectivity that emerges when deictic expressions are used. I show that deictic expressions have certain features of a performative speech act. It is the explosive power of deixis that makes a simple communication exceed the framework of information exchange and become an encounter where a new subject and a new world are born.