Max Picard





Introduction

    Silence is not simply what happens when we stop
talking. It is more than the mere negative renunciation
of language; it is more than simply a condition that we 
can produce at will.
    When language ceases, silence begins. But it does
not begin because language ceases. The absence of
language simply makes the presence of Silence more 
apparent.
    Silence is an autonomous phenomenon. It is therefore
not identical with the suspension of language. It is not
merely the negative condition that sets in when the
positive is removed; it is rather an independent whole,
subsisting in and through itself. It is creative, as language
is creative; and it is formative of human beings as language
is formative, but not in the same degree.
    Silence belongs to the basic structure of man.
    It is not the intention of this book, however, that the
reader should be led to a 'Philosophy of Silence', nor
that he should be misled into despising language. It is
language and not silence that makes man truly human.
The word has supremacy over silence.
   But language becomes emaciated if it loses its connect-
ion with silence. Our task, therefore, is to uncover the
world of silence so obscured today—not for the sake of
silence but for the sake of language.
    It may seem surprising that anything can be said about
silence through the medium of language, but only if one
thinks of silence as something completely negative.
Silence is, on the contrary, a positive, a reality, and
language has the power to make assertions about all 
reality.
    Language and silence belong together: language has
knowledge of silence as silence has knowledge of language.