Friday, July 9, 2021

Of Grammatology / Derrida - overview and summary

In "Of Grammatology", which is Derrida's masterpiece, it is essentially a question of putting into action a science of writing on the model of linguistics, which is the science of language. The fact remains that the science of writing is not quite a science of language, the latter being based on an idealization of meaning that refuses structural linguistics to which Derrida refers. Linguistics falls into paralogisms due to the oblivion in which it is held of psychoanalysis (and of philosophy) that grammatology claims to integrate into a thought of writing which rejects any orality, any temptation of presence.

Grammatology and psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis, according to Derrida, has in fact taught the thinker to suspect Cartesian metaphors of the transparency of statements, and it is on the basis of such a critique established by Freud that Derrida poses the question of writing (at this point). subject, see Writing and difference , "Freud and the scene of writing" ). In the description proposed by Freud of the psychic apparatus, it is in fact a question of treating the dream as a rebus which does not say everything it says, but is given to be understood as an economy of the psyche.

Discovery of the unconscious and hermeneutics 

This aspect of things will push Derrida in the direction of a thought of autobiography. In short, idealization effectively responds to the temptation to make something invisible visible, and ultimately gives itself as a rejection of the hypothesis of the unconscious. From this point of view, alongside Badiou , Deleuze and Lyotard , Derrida belongs to a series of philosophers who, direct or indirect disciples of Althusser , think that the discovery of the unconscious requires a complete overhaul of philosophy. , even in the relationship it maintains with the element of the text. The comment can no longer occupy the function ofhermeneutic , but obliges to hunt down the unthought of which the text is the symptom.


This aspect of things will moreover be theorized under the very term of Deconstruction. What the Greek theoria takes with you, for example, which means: contemplation cannot be left to the abandonment of an evidence in so far as it is also a definition of Thought which has to do with the visible . The science of writing ( De la grammatologie ) is here for example the opportunity to grasp a determination which inevitably temporalizes its object, where writing concerns a timeless phenomenon. One of Derrida's most fruitful intuitions concerns the fact that writing is not of the order of the visible, nor of the order of the audible (cf. The voice and the phenomenon ,, witness of this temptation of the "full presence" - Husserl ).

It refers to another regime which is that of literality . Literality is not only the instance of the letter (Lacan, Freud) but also what forces thoughtto the point of an adhesion which leaves it without shadow, without shadow identical to the most confused of shadows, precisely (everything is reversed at this point if we take into account the disqualification which corrupts any metaphor of the visible). From this point of view, the science of writing can sometimes give the impression of not being a science but of being the object of a (non-transferable) donation. This explains why there is a kind of negative theology in Derrida, at the same time as a constant thought of God in this place which is a non-place (the fact of writing). The fact remains that this is again an illusion in the sense that the donation, even though it was non-transferable, still refers to the myth of "full presence".

There is no thinkable phenomenology of writing. The latter is irreducible to the phenomenological terms carried by the program of a sign consciousness, consciousness which always shines with the brilliance of its own duration. Writing belies as a place of absence or negative any phenomenological program that seeks to target it as such. It is of the order of an imperative, an imposition, an obligation (in the sense of Levinas ). There is an alterity (and in this sense a transcendence) of writing from which is exposed the proximity of Derrida's philosophy with that of Levinas, and with the Jewish fact (monotheistic). The writing is of the order of the other, but of an unparalleled otherness,

Scope of grammatology 

The science of writing is advancing, and it is its conaturality to the deconstructive method that is in question here, as a thought of transition, transduction or translation. We can approach its "essence" only as and when substitutions and permutations are required by the blind exercise of translation.

Grammatology, precisely, is ultimately a philosophical science in the classic sense of the term, namely a science which never ceases to revisit its conditions of possibility, a science which advances only by regressing towards the doubt which is its foundation. Derrida's text, which also claims to found this discipline as a "positive science", is as much influenced by the Lacanian distinction between signifier and signified as by a long critical note devoted to Rousseau. with regard to the first point, it is obvious that writing is the locus of the signifier, and that in this sense all grammatology can only be valid as being the attachment to the gap in the gap between the manifest content of the letter and the series of displacements (on the paradigmatic axis) that the oblivious to a text. It is a method which merges in part with its object, and this is what makes it remarkable difficulty.

Grammatology is the science of graphic elements: letters of alphabetic writing, characters of Chinese ideographic writing 

The Greek word grammatology meaning science of letters in the sense of graphic elements, the title of Derrida's work called De la grammatologie announces a resolutely scientific approach to writing envisaged in the graphic elements likely to be used: letters of l alphabetical writing, characters of Chinese writing. Derrida's work: De la grammatologie is not a scientific study of letters but a reflection on the place of writing in intellectual activity. Thus, several people wondered about the choice of Derrida, who preferred “grammatology” to the Latin term of “writing”.