Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tallis is dead (from the neck up)

There have been several misinterpretations of what I and other deconstructionists are trying to do. It is totally false to suggest that deconstruction is a suspension of reference. Deconstruction is always deeply concerned with the "other" of language. I never cease to be surprised by critics who see my work as a declaration that there is nothing beyond language, that we are imprisoned in language; it is, in fact, saying the exact opposite. The critique of logocentrism is above all else the search for the "other" and the "other of language." Every week I receive critical commentaries and studies on deconstruction which operate on the assumption that what they call "post-structuralism" amounts to saying that there is nothing beyond language, that we are submerged in words—and other stupidities of that sort. 
Jacques Derrida in an interview with Richard Kearney, printed in Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers published in 1984.
In the 1980s I came across post-structuralism, post-modernism, literary theory and the works of characters such as Jacques Derrida, and disillusionment was replaced with rage. These people wanted to tell us that ‘there is nothing outside of the text’ – that the linguistic representation of an extra-linguistic reality was an illusion. “Tell that to a junior doctor responding to the message ‘Cardiac arrest, Ward 6’” I thought.
Raymond Tallis in the August/September 2010 edition of Philosophy Now.

NB: The post title alludes to the final line of this song.


  1. Well if he wrote in the way he spoke, there would have been very little confusion.

  2. Anonymous8:31 pm

    Except that precisely one of the things he aimed to achieve was to dismantle the age-old preference for (living, self-present, plenitudinous) speech over (dead) writing. In other words, gralteso, your desire for Derrida's writing to mimic Derrida's speech is exactly what Derrida's writing finds metaphysically dubious.

  3. Raymond Tallis is clearly not intelligent enough to understand Derrida. Or at he has at least not read him. Maybe he should read Derrida's retort to Searle in 'Limited Inc' where he explicitly states that 'there is nothing outside the text' is the same as saying 'there is nothing outside context'. Derrida is talking about ontological 'truths'. Tallis is talking boring rubbish that Wittgenstein would have hit him with a poker for.

  4. Thanks Daniel & Emile. What surprises me is that Philosophy Now are prepared to publish such basic errors. But one only has to glance at its coverage to notice it's in thrall to science.

  5. Not a very great desire of mine. It was meant as a bit of a joke, if a pretty a glib one.

    It's absolutely worth thinking about, though.

    Really, how poetic was his "project", after all?

    And thinking *specifically*.

    (Not a direct question to anyone, by the way!)



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