JACQUES DERRIDA'S THEORY OF WRITING.
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French philosopher's attempt to determine scientific qualities of writing & create grammatological system.
Jacques Derrida, French critic and philosopher, argues that a science of writing can never exist because a completely coherent system depends on the what he says is the metaphysical possibility of the full presence of certain fundamental elements, while writing in his view "ruptures" full presence and thus makes a coherent system impossible. Derrida then concludes that simplicity should not be given privilege over difference and that the apprehension of full presence in the interior of the individual soul is merely imaginary. Derrida begins with the statement that the concept of writing should define the field of a science (Derrida 27), and a science of writing, he says, should look for its object at the roots of scientificity. He says that the history of writing would turn back to the origin of historicity and stand as a
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It then returns to the North or, what comes down to the same thing, to the south of the South. Derrida approaches his position on simplicity and difference in termsof the question of writing and of whether a grammatology is possible. The most abusive appropriation of Derrida is to cite him as the prescription of a method, since in his texts the movement of self-reflection, or the generalizations which he intermittently makes on the process of his own analytic discourse, are in themselves interventions in or questionings of the practice (Riddel, 247). Derrida tends to mix opposites in a way that causes them to canceleach other out and to undermine one another's methods. Speech lets itself be heard and understood in the South only through articulation, through chilling itself in order to express need anew. The idea of a philosophy of language and the idea of Kantianphilosophy are both illusions: The twentieth-century attempt to purify Kant's general theory about the relation between representations and their objects by turning it into a philosophy of language is, for Derrida, to be countered by making philosophy even more impure--more unprofessional, funnier, more allusive, sexier, and above all, more "written" (Rorty 144).Philosophical writing, says Derrida, is an urge toward putting an end towriting: For Derrida, writing always leads to more writing, and more, and still more--just as history does not lead to Absolute Knowledge or the Final Struggle, but to more history, and more, and still more (Rorty 145). These questions are addressed by each age, and Derrida looks to theeighteenth century for one such example, citing philosophers such asLiebniz and Descartes as he considers the issue of how the concept of thesimple absolute is always involved (Derrida 78). It may just as well be said that it presupposes an onto-phenomenological question in the strict sense of that term. Of Grammatology. By writing Derrida meansan entire structure of investigation and not merely writing in the sense ofgraphic notation on tangible material. Derrida begins with the statement that the concept of writing shoulddefine the field of a science (Derrida 27), and a science of writing, hesays, should look for its object at the roots of scientificity. His discussion itself celebratesdifference over simplicity, and even as he creates what many may take as amethodology and a system, he is denying the possibility of a system. Boston: Little, Brown and company, 1981.Riddel, Joseph N. Derrida begins his bookwith a recounting of modern linguistics and grammatology and their historywith the intention of undermining the very notion of history. We have a contrast between the theoretical fragility of the reconstructions and the historical, archaeological, ethnological, philosophical wealth of information (Derrida 28). What Derridadoes undermines its strength as a model for criticism and analysis: Derrida's text, then, is an exemplary questioning of the very notion of the exemplary. Local difference is nothing but the difference between desire and pleasure. Derrida's tendency to emphasize difference over simplicity isapparent in his use of the term "writing" itself. . His method is to beexorbitant: He calls the section "The Exorbitant./Question of Method," and every term is a double, since exorbitance or excess is always that which cannot be accessible to method, and method is never accountable for the fragmentation of argument. "Re-Doubling the Commentary." Contemporary Literature (Spring, 1979), 237-25 .Rorty, Richard. . . What might seem to be a simple distinction is notso simple, as Derrida indicates when he states about "writing," This common root, which is not a root but the concealment of origin and which is not common because it does not come to the same thing except with the unmonotonous insistence of difference, the unnameable movement of difference-itself which I have strategically nicknamed trace, reserve, or difference, can be called writing only within the historical enclosure, that is to say within the boundaries of metaphysics (Derrida 93). If someone points to a center, Derrida insists that it is a function, not a being (Donoghue 158). Works CitedDerrida, Jacques. "Philosphy as a Kind of Writing: An Essay on Derrida." New Literary History (Autumn 1978), 141-16 .----------------------- 8 The South and the North are not territories but abstract places that appeal only to relate to each other in terms of each other. Richard Rorty points out that while Derrida talks a great deal aboutlanguage, he cannot be considered only a philosopher of language with worksthat might be compared with other investigations of the relations betweenwords and the world. Hence exorbitance marks the curious economy of method, even as it does Rousseau's notion of Nature (Riddell 248).Donoghue notes that the method used by Derrida can best be called ironic,and Derrida tries to avoid the idea of residence by resorting to the methodof play: Derrida takes pleasure in showing that when we think we have demonstrated the coherence of a structure we have merely revealed the force of a desire. Thefundamental condition for a grammatology is the undoing of logocentrism,and he says that this condition of possibility proves to be animpossibility: In fact it risks destroying the concept of science as well. He saysthat the history of writing would turn back to the origin of historicityand stand as a science of the possibility of a science. Derrida states that culture should be broached at its point oforigin, at which time it is not possible to establish any linear order,either logical or chronological: In this broaching, what is initiated is already corrupted, thus returning to a place before the origin. He loves to ascribe to objects merely virtual status. Derrida raises the issue of history in order to deny the power andreality of history, and yet in so doing he is affirming that history doeshave such power and importance. The issue of origin is key for Derrida, though thisraises further issues to be addressed: But the question of origin is at first confounded with the question of essence. One must know what writing is in order to ask--knowing what one is talking about and what the question is-- where and when writing begins (Derrida 74-75). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1976.Donoghue, Denis. Derrida thenconcludes that simplicity should not be given privilege over difference andthat the apprehension of full presence in the interior of the individualsoul is merely imaginary. Rorty says that for Derrida, language is the last refuge of theKantian tradition based on the idea that there is something eternallypresent in the gaze of the human being which philosophy allows us to seemore clearly. This science wouldnot have the form of logic but the form of grammatics, and this would begrammatology. . It is also an error to state that Derrida's writingabout language is an attempt to show why there should be no philosophy oflanguage. It cannot be a model for criticism because it poses itself against the notion of the model and of systematic methodology. Indeed, for Derrida "writing" meansboth writing and speech. . Graphematics or grammatography ought no longer to be presented as sciences; their goal should be exorbitant when compared to grammatological knowledge (Derrida 74).A grammatology is possible only within the traditional norms ofscientificity and begins with the question of where writing begins, whichmeans that it turns to the history of writing to consider where and whenwriting developed. . Ferocious Alphabets. As can be seen from this, Derrida says that the idea ofwriting cannot be divorced from the history of writing, and he says thatfor the grammotologist the question of what is writing means when and wheredoes writing begin, leading to certain responses: All works dealing with the history of writing are composed along the same lines: a philosophical and teleological classification exhausts the critical problems in a few pages; one passes next to an exposition of facts. From here on, I shall constantly reconfirm that writing is the other name of this difference (Derrida 267-268).Derrida finally comes around to an equation of writing and difference thathas ramifications for everything he has stated in the course of hisanalysis and for the applicaiotn of his concepts to the text. Jacques Derrida, French critic and philosopher, argues that a scienceof writing can never exist because a completely coherent system depends onthe what he says is the metaphysical possibility of the full presence ofcertain fundamental elements, while writing in his view "ruptures" fullpresence and thus makes a coherent system impossible.
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