The Horizon of Language

Russell Daylight

in What if Derrida Was Wrong About Saussure?

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780748641970
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671564 | DOI:
The Horizon of Language

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For Ferdinand de Saussure, linguistic identity is more a matter of linguistic identification, and is solely in the hands (or brains) of the language user. And when we say that meaning is determined by language users, we might also say that meaning resides within consciousness. However, it is precisely this privilege given to language users, and to consciousness, that Jacques Derrida's discourse would wish to question. If subject and object, synchrony and diachrony, writing and speech, are utilised by Saussure as already present entities, then what is it that created or produced or enabled them? If Saussurean semiology as a theory relies on the prior existence of these entities, then, Derrida would claim, this prior existence requires an explanation. This chapter places Derrida's reading of Saussure within the problematics of systematicity, axiomatics, and the horizon of language. It begins by looking at Derrida's views on the relationship between différance and difference. It then examines the logic of antecedence in Derrida's engagement with Saussure, as well as the radical systematicity of Saussurean linguistics.

Keywords: Jacques Derrida; Ferdinand de Saussure; consciousness; language; systematicity; axiomatics; différance; difference; antecedence; linguistics

Chapter.  10785 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Linguistics

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