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Speech and Phenomena: And Other Essays on Husserl's Theory of Signs [Paperback]

Jacques Derrida , David B. Allison
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 1 1979
<DIV>In <I>Speech and Phenomena,</I> Jacques Derrida situates the philosophy of language in relation to logic and rhetoric, which have often been seen as irreconcilable criteria for the use and interpretations of signs. His critique of Husserl attacks the position that language is founded on logic rather than on rhetoric; instead, he claims, meaningful language is limited to expression because expression alone conveys sense. Derrida's larger project is to confront phenomenology with the tradition it has so often renounced--the tradition of Western metaphysics.<BR></DIV>

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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside and Outside June 23 2000
Format:Paperback
Derrida, for all the supposed density of his writing, is a simplifier. Deconstruction owes much of its popularity (in America) to the fact that it says: philosophy is not all that complicated, just see how the inside and outside collapse into one another and you can tear any text at its seams. Derrida follows the same procedure with poor old Edmund: the entirety of the LU shamble if Husserl is unable to maintain the integrity of silent thought, in which no Anzeichen point toward anything. Unlike the canals on Mars, which may point to intelligent life, silent thought is unmediated and not supplemented (to use a Deriddaism) by a sign. The collapse (or rending) of inside and outside by the supplement mark the presence of absence: the word, a mere supplement to the presence of silent thought, separates and joins the "life" and "presence" of consciousness with absence, repetition, and death.
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Format:Paperback
Arguably one of the most convtroversial philosophers within the Continental tradigion, Derrida's work either heralds a revolution in philosophy or its utter destruction.
Derrida cites two important pedigrees (as the title suggests): Husserl and (tacitly) de Saussure.
Using the "course in general linguistics" of de Saussure, Derrida notes a certain degree of freedom, a "jeu," between the words-as-symbols and the thought contents they produce. Exploiting de Saussure's note that the relation between the sign and the mental content is arbitrary, Derrida questions the validity of any text (where the notion of text includes, but is not limited to, books, magazines, commercials, art, sex).
Derrida sees behind any "text" its entire recursive history, the weight of all the words, the mental experience of the reader.
At the point he considers the reader's experience he starts to deal with phenomenology - the study proposed and defined by Husserl himself in his Vienna and Paris lectures. A short definition might be that Phenomenology is the study of how man mentally relates to the objects of his experience(I admit, debatably so).
This book proposes Derrida's famous example of "différance" and its effect upon the Gallically trained ear and mind. So if you want to seem witty and "with-it" this introductory tome shall suffice.
As far as my own deconstruction / critique of the work. As an introductory work it is dense. Derrida is often criticized for losing himself in intellectual crevices, being prolix, and employing poor stylistics. These are not unmerited.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Coming out of the Heideggerean tradition of confusing wannabe academics into thinking you know more than they can grasp, Derrida has been stringing his following along for decades, getting into innumerable literary criticism and philosophy and language study classrooms and scaring kids away from what can truly be rewarding fields of study. Certainly his ideas on "differance" and the de-centered center are neat and they are developed out of a broader philosophical tradition. But Derrida's work is the perfect example of why so many people are turned away from philosophical study. Certainly, I am not advocating that everyone break their works down into catch-phrases and self-help books, but there should be a recognition that if the concepts cannot be elucidated in plain language, if the arguments cannot be followed without a strong background in phenomenology and structuralism, then they are of little use. Hume wrote his Enquiry, Kant the "Prolegomena", Sartre delivered his Existentialism & Humanism talk, etc... these were all attempts to make somewhat clear, the ideas entrenched in their dense treatises. That attempt needs to be made. If the work remains solely in the hands of the elite, who have made their way through all of the academic hoops, it grows stale. I think we can already see that happening. Or is it all just a game? A bunch of intellectual posturing? I'd like to give the benefit of the doubt and believe that's not the case. But I'm still waiting for someone to prove it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
20 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An introduction to Derrida and his related "différance" March 29 2000
By Steven G. Harms - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Arguably one of the most convtroversial philosophers within the Continental tradigion, Derrida's work either heralds a revolution in philosophy or its utter destruction.
Derrida cites two important pedigrees (as the title suggests): Husserl and (tacitly) de Saussure.
Using the "course in general linguistics" of de Saussure, Derrida notes a certain degree of freedom, a "jeu," between the words-as-symbols and the thought contents they produce. Exploiting de Saussure's note that the relation between the sign and the mental content is arbitrary, Derrida questions the validity of any text (where the notion of text includes, but is not limited to, books, magazines, commercials, art, sex).
Derrida sees behind any "text" its entire recursive history, the weight of all the words, the mental experience of the reader.
At the point he considers the reader's experience he starts to deal with phenomenology - the study proposed and defined by Husserl himself in his Vienna and Paris lectures. A short definition might be that Phenomenology is the study of how man mentally relates to the objects of his experience(I admit, debatably so).
This book proposes Derrida's famous example of "différance" and its effect upon the Gallically trained ear and mind. So if you want to seem witty and "with-it" this introductory tome shall suffice.
As far as my own deconstruction / critique of the work. As an introductory work it is dense. Derrida is often criticized for losing himself in intellectual crevices, being prolix, and employing poor stylistics. These are not unmerited. Yet for the reader who wishes to move beyond the fashionability of tossing "deconstructionist" out at cocktail parties, this is a must read. It is certainly part of the 20th century canon.
My own conclusions are mixed. In his later works Derrida becomes truly absurd, laughable, silly, and occasionally brilliant. Yet his work never fails to move its readers either to agree that he is either an idiot, a bad writer, or that philosophy as we know it has long been dead. Perhaps like a Socratic gadfly, Derrida is moving us to an entire gestalt shift vis-à-vis our relationship with philosophy and social institutions.
A solid background of Kant/Hegel, as well as a familiarity with lingustics (the aforementioned course in general lingustics of de Saussure) greatly ease the difficulty in penetrating his work.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great early endeavors Feb. 26 2013
By Terri Rowley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is very heady and deep for the averaged reader. One might have to slowly digest and go back for a full comprehension of the material if not accustomed to this subject matter or Derrida's style of writing. Some of the essays in this are invaluable when studying his work from the beginning, or to get an alternative philosophical perspective on the subject matter from a deconstructionist standpoint. He also amplifies an understanding of his predecessors before him that allow a new interpretation for their work, or build upon the explanations lacking in their artistic endeavors in plotting out the thoughts of their minds. Granted this is from his stand point, yet they tend to add body to his work and reasoning. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to open up their mind and take a look at things from varying view points.
11 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside and Outside June 22 2000
By steven schwartzbard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Derrida, for all the supposed density of his writing, is a simplifier. Deconstruction owes much of its popularity (in America) to the fact that it says: philosophy is not all that complicated, just see how the inside and outside collapse into one another and you can tear any text at its seams. Derrida follows the same procedure with poor old Edmund: the entirety of the LU shamble if Husserl is unable to maintain the integrity of silent thought, in which no Anzeichen point toward anything. Unlike the canals on Mars, which may point to intelligent life, silent thought is unmediated and not supplemented (to use a Deriddaism) by a sign. The collapse (or rending) of inside and outside by the supplement mark the presence of absence: the word, a mere supplement to the presence of silent thought, separates and joins the "life" and "presence" of consciousness with absence, repetition, and death.
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