Jacques Derrida: After Structuralism

Jacques Derrida: After Structuralism

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Derrida problematizes Language again. Therefore, it problematizes structuralism, especially Saussure and Levi-Strauss, within the framework of its own limitations. For him, language is a much more volatile and ambiguous thing than the structuralists imagine and point out. Meaning cannot arise without reference to another meaning in opposition, and the boundaries of meaning are constantly shifted within the historicity of Language; because signs always pass through other contexts of meaning, they mean other things, they can never be closed.

In the chain of signs that change from context to context, meaning therefore has an ever-changing quality. Derrida argues that there cannot be an independent field of signifieds. Two propositions become clear here: first, the impossibility of an independent field of signifieds, and second, that a sign system cannot be escaped in any way or any other way.

De La Grammatologie was published in 1967. Along with two other works on writing published at the time, they are considered a turning point in Derrida’s line. These texts are fundamental and pioneering works on which he critiques phenomenology (and Edmund Husserl), linguistics (and Ferdinand de Saussure), psychoanalysis (and Jacques Lacan), structuralism (and Levi-Strauss). He problematized the centrality of language and structure, bringing structuralism and phenomenology to their logical conclusions in a way that a structuralist and phenomenologist could not. Accordingly, it invalidated the proposition of neutrality of structures at this level.

By defining the structure as the separation of structuralism’s inner-elements, it displaced the “center” concept in traditional philosophy. At this point, Derrida steps in with his critique of the centrality of structures and displaces structuralism by creating deconstruction. Yapısöküm is used here as the Turkish equivalent of Deconstruction. Elsewhere, it is also seen to be hailed as deconstruction or deconstruction.

Derrida’s objection to the structuralist understanding of Language forms the basis of his objection to the traditional way of thinking, which he calls the metaphysics of presence (translated as “metaphysics of presence” in some other translations), which is his main questioning subject. Presence metaphysics ranges from Plato to Husserl and structuralism, and ultimately they all proceed from the assumption that there is an independent field of existence or being; whereas Derrida asserts the impossibility of a field that the signs (or signs) point to and which is completely independent of these signs, and reveals that a signified independent of the signifier is not possible.

Accordingly, it is shown that there cannot be a field of meaning independent of signs or signs pointing to meaning, that is, it is stated that there cannot be a presence or presence that is not dependent on any condition. Presence cannot exist in the context of language. Because “there is no transcendent signified.” Each signifier indicates another signifier, and what will be obtained from this is not only presence but also “chains of signs” that are the source of understanding. Thus, the “game of meaning” turns into an endless game.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook