WORKING GROUP 9 What is a Text?

Ansprechpartner: Maximilian Haas

Under the working title “What is a Text? On the Episteme of Philology”, we want to address the question what specific contribution Philology as a “theoretical attitude” can make to the ongoing debate on materiality. More precisely, it is our intention to examine the relationship between materiality and meaning within the context of a theory of Philology and, vice versa, to situate the philological activity within the field of a theory of materiality.

When in operation, Philology always has to keep in view both the materiality of a text (which arises, on the one hand, out of the physis of the single signs and, on the other, the extensory momentum of their interweaving) and its semantic potential. Its endeavour aims at defining the exact point at which the linear chain of signs turns into the organised structure of a text. In a sense, Philology holds on the moment when a mere sequence of things or, temporally speaking, a simple succession are condensed into order or, respectively, into time.

By focusing on what lies beyond the merely material dimension of the text and, yet, does still not belong to the province of hermeneutics, Philology may contribute to solving what so far seems to be the central problem of the academic debate on materiality, that is to say the mediation between sensuousness and signification.