Logical method in Derrida

Peter Gratton has a nice post up on Derrida’s characteristic (signature?) logic.

“By isolating a trope, then tying it back to a given tradition, Derrida’s “deconstruction” can then get underway. … identify a place where an author must get underway with a certain definition (to identify the mad that one is doing a history of [even as one says there can be no history of the mad], to do a phenomenology of that which we call death [while claiming it is the possibility of impossibility], etc.) and then only circles back to reify that definition at a more convoluted, “philosophical” level.”

He’s nicely identified the “logic” of deconstruction, that is described neatly by Gasché and Bennington, among others – but is rarely engaged with in “continental philosophy”, as Gratton is claiming, which seems true to me. (Does anybody research this kind of logic today? Len Lawlor, perhaps.) Derrida called this logic a “graphic’ early on, because it violated the axioms of a standard logic, like identity, and so on (Martin Hagglund wrote a nice chapter on this in Radical Atheism). To my mind this is Derrida’s core contention, his major contribution, a particular historical torsion that links the empirical figures of a discourse to a transcendental condition.

As Peter notes, it’s quite classical. In Naas’ terms, it ‘takes on the tradition’. And that means we can begin to link this to other philosophers. Something that we have yet to do enough of. Heidegger, of course, as Peter mentions, but that also means Hyppolite, Merleau-Ponty and others. In fact, The line that runs through Hegel and Heidegger – which means it can also be linked to Adorno and German critical theory in ways, too.


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