Re: [xmca] Vygotsky vs. Derrida

From: Wolff-Michael Roth (
Date: Sun Oct 22 2006 - 08:18:18 PDT

Hi Tony, I am not so sure that Derrida is anti-realist. Before I read
him, I naively took people at their word when they said that D takes
a position of everything being in language, and I might have
reproduced such a statement myself in very early writing about him.
(A piece on the phenomenology of mathematical knowing.) But when you
read the book "On Touching--Jean-Luc Nancy", you get a very different
perspective on D. The body is all over the place, the body is the
condition for knowing and language.

Anyway, this is my reading of it. Jean-Luc Nancy is an interesting
philosopher who knows his Hegel inside out, and who has re-thought
Hegelian dialectics (In his books Nancy, J.-L. (2001). The
speculative remark (One of Hegel's bon mots). Stanford: Stanford
University Press.
Nancy, J.-L. (2002). Hegel: The restlessness of the negative.
Stanford: Stanford University Press.) and has worked out an ontology
that is based on the primacy of the WITH as the precondition of
consciousness--consistent with the Meshcheryakov experiments.


On 22-Oct-06, at 8:06 AM, Tony Whitson wrote:

On Sun, 22 Oct 2006, Wolff-Michael Roth wrote about Derrida:

> He is probably the most misunderstood philosopher, because
> interpreted from non-dialectical scholars.

I think one reason is that he makes philosophical points
performatively, and not just propositionally. Many don't understand
what he's doing by that, and many more don't even see he's doing that
at all, but reduce his writing to some sort of propositional residue
which they rightly observe does not amount to as much. What's being
evaluated then is the reader's own reduction, not Derrida's thinking
and writing. (The exchange with Searle is the best-known example.)

Somebody once distinguished between philosophers who are either
understood or not understood, vs those who are either understood or
misunderstood. (Anybody know the source for that?)

Derrida makes a bad mistake at the point where he sees Peirce
resorting to a "transcendental signified" (I think that's the phrase
D uses, but I won't look it up right now.) I think Deely's right
about Derrida (unlike Peirce) being trapped in an anti-realist
modernism. Still, I think that to reduce Derrida to Saussure is to
miss out on some important insights that Derrida uniquely has to offer.
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