The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1467 Friday, 18 July 2003
From: David Schalkwyk <
Date: Friday, 18 Jul 2003 13:57:25 +0200
Subject: 14.1443 Re: Deconstruction
Comment: Re: SHK 14.1443 Re: Deconstruction
I haven't been following this thread on language consistently, so I'm
rather fearful about jumping in to a pond so treacherous, and where the
currents run so strong and deep.
It seems to me that much of the discussion is based on a confusion about
Deconstruction's relation to language and experience. Perhaps one
cannot generalise about Deconstruction as such. I'm even loathe to
generalise about Derrida, since I have read him only from particular
If one looks at Derrida's writing on Husserl (where the issue of
experience looms especially large) it soon becomes clear that Derrida
does not hold the positions that are usually attributed to him, viz.
that there is no empirical reality, only language, or, to put it another
way, that we experience the world only through language. What Derrida
does say is that the structure of our experience of the world and the
structure of the linguistic sign share certain essential
characteristics, notably repeatability across time. (Wittgenstein makes
the same point about language when he says that a word is not for use on
only one occasion.) Such repeatability involves difference (because each
occasion of repetition is different from the previous one) and deferral
(because such repetition does not end in a final product or stasis).
This structural similarity does not mean that words and things or words
and experience are the same things, or that the one can be reduced to
the other. What it does mean is that we cannot take an empiricist
stance on either words or things: words do not simply reflect things;
nor does the world simply impress itself upon the mind. In that sense,
then, there is no *Empiricist* reality.
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