Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Derrida and Specch Act Theory - overview

There is a well-known controversy between Derrida and John Searle about Austin's theory of speech acts, which was developed by Searle. According to Derrida, attempts to present speech as a means of communication and to attach meanings to a specific context are metaphysical, since the very concept of communication already carries the features of metaphysics. Searle's attitudes that we can understand the author's thought or his intentions are also the attitudes of Cartesian metaphysics, which Searle opposes. Such attitudes generally cannot be the basis of any theory, including the theory of speech acts. Searle's concept is only a manifestation of his excessive confidence that he can distinguish the main from the secondary.

For Derrida the boundary between descriptive and performative utterances (on the distinction of which the theory of speech acts is based) cannot be clear. At the same time, the creator of the theory of speech acts, Austin himself, moved in a more correct direction than Searle. First of all, the speech is about the fact that he could not accurately distinguish performatives, that is, find a "pure" performative. Derrida agreed with Austin on the universality of quotations, that is, that descriptive statements should be regarded as quotations. Derrida sharply criticized Austin's interpretation of context. For Derrida, context cannot be categorized clearly (as Austin and Searle did when introducing “bad” and “good”, “serious” and “frivolous” contexts). Any context is unique, there is always something unexpected in it. The context is not a universal code. Only the difference is primary, which is also manifested in quotations. Austin was a logocentric, and therefore a metaphysician, who believed that meaning presupposes a clear conscious intention on the part of the author of a speech utterance.