You are on page 1of 41

Derrida,SpeechandPhenomena,pp.

1731
Deconstruction is a reading of a text that exhibits its origin in diffrance. It means finding
the oppositions that structure a text, i.e., seeing how, trying to say one thing, the text also
says the reverse.
Before we consider Derridas deconstruction of Husserls text, we should look at the text
itself.
The text is simply the first part of the first of Husserls six Logical Investigations. This
small fragment indicates, stands for, the whole of Husserls corpus!
Deconstructing it, one can, according to Derrida, deconstruct the whole of Husserls
phenomenology.
What does Husserl say in this small text.
He makes a number of preliminary distinctions.
The first is between expressive and indicative signs
He writes, Every sign is a sign for something, but not every sign has meaning, a sense
that the sign expresses (Logical Investigations, tr. Findlay, 2 vols. New York: Humanities
Press, 1970, [here after cited as Husserl 1970]. p. 269).
Expressions are distinguished by being meaningful signs (ibid., p. 275). What they
express is a meaning or sense.
Thus, the word, horse expresses one sense, the word, house, another.
The case is different with indications.
All sorts of things can serve as indicative signs.
A brand can be seen as the sign of a slave. A chalk mark can indicate a house to be
robbed.
Although they are deliberately produced, these signs do not by themselves have meaning.
Their relation is not that of expression, but rather that of one thing standing for another
(ibid., p. 270).
Behind this is a relation of beliefs. All indicative relations share the common
circumstance that a belief in the existence of one thing motivates the belief in another.
Themotivationtoproceedfromonetotheotherisbasedonassociation(ibid.,p.273
4).
Bycontrast,therelationbetweenanexpressionandthesenseitexpressesisnota
questionofbelief.Theexpressionseemstopointawayfromitselftoitssense.But

thispointing,Husserlwrites,isnotanindication....Theexistenceofthesignneither
motivatestheexistenceofthemeaning,nor,properlyexpressed,ourbeliefinthe
meaningsexistence(ibid.,p.279).
Whatwehavehereisadistinctionoftwotypesoffunctioning.
Thesamesigncanhavebothanindicativeandexpressivefunction.
Incommunicativespeech,thisdoublefunctioningisabsolutelyrequired.Thus,in
speakingtoanother,apersonmustnotjustproduceanarticulatesoundcomplex.
[H]emust,Husserlwrites,endowitwithasenseincertainactsofmind,asensehe
desirestosharewithhisauditors.Expressingthissense,thesoundcomplexbecomes
anexpression.
Yet,forittofunctionassuchincommunicativespeech,itmustalsofunctionasan
indication.Theauditormusttakethespeakertobeaperson,whoisnotmerelyuttering
soundsbutisspeakingtohim,whoisaccompanyingthosesoundswithcertainsense
givingacts...(Husserl1970,p.277).
Thus,thesign,house,canexpresssomeobjectoutthere.Itcanalsoindicatemymental
actofendowingthesoundwithasense.
ForHusserl,thesetwoformsoffunctioningarenotcoextensive.Signscanfunction
expressivelywithoutindicatinganything.
Thus,Husserlwrites,thatindicationisnotthegenusofwhichanexpressionisthe
species.Tomeanisnotaparticularwayifbeingasigninthesenseofindicating
something(Husserl1970,p.269).Ifitwere,thenallexpressionswouldalsohavean
indicativefunction.Incommunicativespeechtheydo.Mentalactsarealwaysindicated
byourspokenworlds.Wecannotseesuchactsdirectly.Somethingmuststandintheir
placeasamarkforthem.
Speakingwithothers,however,isnotouronlytypeofdiscourse.Wealsospeakto
ourselves.
Whenwedo,theexpressivefunctioncontinues,buttheindicativeonedropsaway.
InHusserlswords,...expressionsalsoplayagreatpartinuncommunicated,interior
mentallife.Theycontinuetohavemeaningsastheyhadbefore(ibid.,p.278).They
donot,however,functionasindications.
Itisnotthecasethatinsoliloquyonespeakstooneself,andemployswordsassigns,
i.e.,asindications,ofonesowninnerexperiences(ibid.,p.279).
Thereasonforthisisthatindicationsstandfortheirreferents.Butsuchstandingfor
seemsoutofplacewhenthereferentitselfispresent.Giventhereferent,wehaveno
motivationtoemployasubstituteforit.InHusserlswords:Inmonologuewordscan
performnofunctionofindicatingtheexistenceofmentalacts,sincesuchindication

wouldtherebequitepurposeless.Fortheactsinquestionarethemselvesexperienced
byusatthatverymoment(ibid.,p.280).
Ininteriormonologue,then,weareinourmentallife,selfpresentwithoutany
mediation.
Thewordsintheirexpressivefunctiondonotindicatethementalacts.Theydonot
standforthem.
Thequestionhereis:whatisthererelationtosuchacts?Aretheytheseactthemselves?
Ifnot,whywouldwenotsaythattheyhaveanindicativefunction?Dotheyhaveno
relation?Aretheysimplytothingslyingsidebyside?
Husserlsanswerrathercomplex.Itinvolves,firstofall,afurtherdistinctionbetween
indicationandexpression.
Itconcernstheirrelationtotheirreferent.Referringinthecaseofindicationsisamatter
ofstandingforsomething.Thisisadirectrelationwheretheexistenceofonething
bringsaboutthebeliefinanother.
Bycontrast,anexpressionsrelationtoitsreferentismediatedbyitssense.The
expressionrefersthroughitssense.
Insodoing,ithasthepossibilityofhavingitsreferenceconfirmedbyadirect
experienceofthereferent.Therecanbeafulfillmentofitssenseinacorresponding
intuition.
InHusserlswords,themeaningconferringactsorthemeaningintentionswhich
endowanexpressionwithsensecanbefulfilledbythemeaningfulfillingactswhich
actualizetheirrelationtoobjects.Whenthisoccurs,theintendedsenseofan
expression,e.g.,thebookisonthetable,isintuitivelyconfirmed.
Weseetheobjectonthetableandagreewiththeassertion.
Sincetheassertionsreferenceismediatedthroughitssense,thereishereadouble
identification.Wegraspthespokensoundsintermsoftheirsense,andgraspthissense
intermsofacorrespondingintuitivepresence.AsHusserlputsthis:Thesoundedword
isfirstmadeonewiththemeaningintention,andthisinitsturnismadeonewithits
correspondingmeaningfulfillment(Husserl1970,p.281).
Behindthisdoubleidentificationisthefactthatthemeaningconferringactthatgives
meaningtomywordsisthesameactthatgivesmeaningtointuitivepresence.
Thus,theactthatallowsmetounderstandthewordsofalanguagefailsinaforeign
language.AllIhearareverbalnoises.WhenIdounderstandalanguageIunderstand
themeaningintentionsattachedtoitswords.SoIunderstand,e.g.,thatcasahasthe
sameintentionashouse.Whatisthisintention?Itisthatofgraspingaoneinmany.I

interpretthemultipleexperiencesIhaveasexperiencesofsomeobject.InHusserls
words:
Itbelongstoperceptionthatsomethingappearswithinit,butinterpretation
makesupwhatwetermappearancebeitcorrectornot,anticipatoryor
overdrawn.ThehouseappearstomethroughnootherwaybutthatIinterpretin
acertainfashionactuallyexperiencedcontentsofsensation....Theyaretermed
appearancesor,better,appearingcontentspreciselyforthereasonthattheyare
contentsofperceptiveinterpretation(LogischeUntersuchungened.Ursula
Panzer.HusserlianaXIX,2Vols.TheHague:MartinusNijhoff,1984,p.762).
ForHusserl,perceptualexperiencese.g.,particularcontentsofsensationachieve
theirstatusasappearancesofsomeobjectthroughinterpretation.Theinterpretation
placestheminaframeworkofidentityinmultiplicity.Thishappenswheneverwe
continuallytaketheminthesamesense.
AsHusserlwritesindescribinghowwesupposeourselvestoperceptuallygrasponeand
thesameobjectthroughthechangeofexperientialcontents,differentperceptual
contentsaregiven,buttheyareinterpreted,apperceivedinthesamesense,...the
interpretation(Auffassung)accordingtothissenseisacharacterofexperiencewhich
firstconstitutesthebeingoftheobjectforme(ibid.,p.397).
Thisisthesensethatmywordsexpress.Thus,Iconfirmmyverbalassertionsbyfirst
graspingtheirmeaningintentions.Idothisbytakingthemastheinterpretativesensesof
someperception.IthenseeiftheperceptionsIamactuallyhavingconfirmthis
interpretation.Iftheydo,theverbalassertionisconfirmed.
Backtothequestion.Whatistherelationofthewordsinsolitarymentallifetomy
mentalacts.Husserlsansweristhattheydonotindicatetheacts.Insofarasthey
functionaswords,weconcentrateontheirsenses:butthesesensesarethoseofthe
mentalacts.Sothewords,takenasexpressivemeanings,aretheinterpretativesensesor
interpretativeintentionsofourperceptualacts.
Isthissufficient.Canwereducethewordsthatfloatinourheadswhenwearethinking
aboutsomethingtothesensestheyexpress.Canweeliminatetheempiricalelement
theactualwordsintheactuallanguagewehappentobethinkinginfrominternal
soliloquy
Derridascritiqueofthisinvolvestwooppositions:Thefirstconcernsthestatusofthe
sign.Isthesignpriortothetruthorposterior?
Ifthelatteristhecase,onewouldsubjectsigntotruth,languagetobeing,speechto
thought,andwritingtospeech.Sotheorderiswriting,speech,thought,being,truth.
Truthisthecorrespondenceofbeingandthought.Intuitionisthatthroughwhichthis
correspondenceisverified.Speechistrueinsofarasitcorrespondstothought(thesense
ofwhatwesay).Writingistrueinsofarasitcorrespondstospeech(representsit
accurately).

Iftheformeristhecase,ifthesignpriortothetruth,thentheactivityofsignification
althoughithasnotruthinitselfconditionsthemomentandconceptoftruth.(24)
TheclaimisthatHusserlalsowantstoaffirmthis,thathewillaccordagrowing
attentiontothatwhich,insignification,inlanguage,andininscription,depositsideal
objectivity,producestruthorideality,ratherthansimplyrecordsit(25).
Heretheactivityofsignificationhasnotruthbecauseofitspriority.InDerridaswords,
ifthesigninsomewayprecededwhatwecalltruthoressence,therewouldbenosense
inspeakingaboutthetruthoressenceofthesign(24).Itwouldproceedtruthifwetake
thesign,asHusserldoes,asthestructureofanintentionalmovement.Thisisthe
movementthatestablishesthesubjectobjectrelationandhencetheverypossibilityof
truthascorrespondence.
TheclaimhereisthatinHusserlmustassertboth.Hewantstosayboththatthestructure
ofanintentionalmovementispriortotruthandthatthisstructureisgovernedbytruth.It
ispriorinsofarasitestablishestruth.Husserlsgeneticanalysisofourmentallife,
Derridaclaims,showsthis.
ThesignisposteriortotruthinsofarasHusserlalsowantstosaythatthisstructureis
determinedbytruth.
Inthissecondcase,Husserlsappealistothedialecticofintentionandfulfillment.The
dialecticissuchthat,althougheveryperceptualsenseexperiencedbyusisasensewe
intend,noteverysenseweintendcomestobefulfilledbyacorrespondingintuition.
Onlythosesensesthatareintuitivelyembodiedbythebeingthatweintendwillbe
fulfilled.Thisindependenceofourobjectmeansthatthereisaconstantadjustmentof
ourinterpretiveintentionuntilitreachesfulfillment.Derridahowevernevermentions
this.HesimplyfocusonthefactthatforHusserltruthisamatteroftheidealcontentsof
thejudgmentthemeaningcontents.Howsuchcontentsariseisnotraisedbythe
HusserloftheLogicalInvestigations.
Thesecondoppositionisbetween
mentallifeasinvolvingcontingentassociations,asempirical(asthatwhichcouldbe
otherwise)whichneedstobebracketedtogetattheideal,noncontingentrelations
and
mentalliferegardedgeneticallyasthepreexpressive,prelinguisticstratumofsense,
whichthereductionmustsometimesdisclosebyexcludingthestratumoflanguage.
(31).
Husserlbothwantstobracketsuchlifeandmakeittheobjectofhisinquiries.Theclaim
hereisthathenevercanclarifytherelationbetweentranscendentalphenomenologyand
phenomenologicalpsychology,betweentheegoasatranscendentalsubjectandtheego
asanempiricalsubject,theegoasagroundoftheworld,andtheegoasintheworld
havingempirical,contingentrelationstoitsobjects.(1214).

Whatdowereach,whenweperformthereduction?Note:Husserlclaimswereach
transcendentalconsciousness.Empiricalconsciousnessissimplyaninterpretedstratum
ofthis.Itappearswhenwetaketherelationsweobservetobetoinvolveexternal
objects.Theinterpretativeframeisthatofthesubjectintheworld.
Inthereading,Derridamakestheclaimthattheturntosolitarymentallifeisanimplicit
reductiononewhichembodiesthisoppositionbetweentranscendentalandempirical..
Thisviewinvolvesanumberofclaims.
Thefirstisthatthesphereofindicationisthatofempiricalfacticity.
InDerridaswords,Havingitsorigininthephenomenaofassociation,andalways
connectingempiricalexistentsintheworld,indicativesignificationinlanguagewill
covereverythingthatfallssubjecttothereductions:factuality,worldlyexistence,
essentialnonnecessity,nonevidence,etc.(Derrida1973a,p.30).
Thesecondisthatthereductionisabracketingofempiricalexistence.Giventhatan
indicativesigncannotbeconceivedwithoutthecategoryofempirical,whichistosay
onlyprobable,existence(ibid.,p.42),itmustfalltothereduction.
Thethirdisthatthereductionisareductiontoconsciousnesstakenasafieldofintuitive
selfpresence.ThissenseofthereductionisimpliedbytheselfpresenceHusserl
assumesininteriormonologue.Speakingtoourselves,wehavenoneedofindications
sinceourmeaningisimmediatelypresenttousinconsciousness.Giventhis,the
reductiontomonologueHusserlusestodistinguishtheexpressivefromtheindicative
functionisimplicitlyaphenomenologicalreduction.Whenweengageinit,weare
actuallyengaginginareductiontoconsciousnesstakenasafieldofintuitiveself
presence.
Now,thequestionis,whatdoweactuallyfindhere?Isitthecasethatnoindication
occursinsolitarymentallife.
Ifexpressionscouldnotfunctionwithoutindication,notjustinteriormonologuewould
beimpossible.
Thereductionitselfwouldbeundermined.Thisisbecauseitsgoalhasbeendefinedas
theselfpresencethatallowsexpressionstofunctionontheirown.
Thiscanbeputintermsofthebracketingofempiricalexistencethatthereductionis
supposedtoaccomplish.ForDerrida,indicativesignificationimpliesempirical
existence.Ifexpressionscouldnotfunctionwithoutsuchsignification,thenthe
bracketingofempiricalexistencealsobracketsthefunctioningofexpressions.
Whatwouldremainafterthisbracketingwould,then,bedevoidofbothlanguageand
meaning.

Derridasclaimisthat,infact,thatthefunctioningofthemeaningintentionsthat
animateourspeechalsorequireindication.Thepreexpressive,prelinguisticstratumof
sensethatgeneratessenseinouractsis,heclaims,interwovenwithindication.
Thus,thereductioniscontradictory.Attheonehand,iteliminatesempiricalexistence,
ontheotheritactuallyhassuchexistenceasitsgoalinsofarasitwanttouncoverthe
prelinguisticstratusthatgeneratesenseandlanguage.Suchstrataasassociationinvolve
indication.Oncewepenetrateintothesensegivingact,intoitsgenesisandfunctioning,
wefindourselvesinempiricalexistence.
Husserlwouldsay,thatDerridaisleavingoutthefactoftheeideticreductionwhich
pullsouttheidealformsfromtheempiricalfunctioningoftheinterpretativeactsthat
generatemeaning.Whoisright?

Derrida,SpeechandPhenomena,pp.3247
Themes:
Theassertionthatexpressionandindicationcannotreallybedistinguished
Bothareexternalizations.
Expressionisexternalization,onethatintendsanoutsidewhichisthatof
anidealobject.(32)
Soisindication(eventhoughitintendsarealobject).
Botharevoluntary:
Iintentionallyproducetheindicationandtheexpression
meaningisvouloirdire(wantingtosay).
ThisisthereasonwhyHusserldoesnottakegestures,theyawn,etc.,as
expressingmeaning.Theyinvolvenointenttoputcertainthoughtson
recordexpressivelyThereisnoanimationofthembyasensebestowing
act.(35)
Note:inpassing,DerridagivesacuriousargumentthatHusserlintentional
consciousnessandvoluntaryconsciousnessassynonymous(34)
Admittingthateveryintentionallivedexperiencemayinprinciplebetakenupagain
inanexpressiveexperience,andadmittingthatallexpressionsarevoluntary,every
intentionalexperienceisvoluntary.Theconclusionhereisthatinspiteofallthe
thesesofreceptiveorintuitiveintentionalityandpassivegenesis,theconceptof
intentionalityremainscaughtupinthetraditionofavoluntaristicmetaphysics,thatis,
perhaps,ofmetaphysicsassuch.(ibid.).
Husserlwoulddenythis,butDerridawouldsaythatitfollowsfromHusserls
premises.Anexampleofdeconstruction,ofseehowtheauthoraffirmstheopposite
ofhetheses.
Communicationtotheothercannotoccurwithoutindication.Mywordsstandfor
mythoughts.But,asHusserladmits,expressionisoriginallyframedtoservethe
functionofcommunication(38).Assuch,itrequiresindicationsincethehearerdoes
notdirectlyexperiencetheinnerexperiencesoftheother.
AsDerridanotes,thepremisehereisthatpresence.Wemustrelyonindicationbecause
wehavenoprimordialintuitionofthepresenceoftheotherslivedexperience(40).
When,however,insolitaryspeech,indicationfallsaway,wemustbeinthesphereof
purepresence.Here,pureexpressionwillbethepureactiveintention(spirit,psyche,
life,will)ofanactofmeaningthatanimatesaspeechwhosecontentispresent.The
meaninghasthereforeapresencetotheselfinthelifeofapresentthathasnotyetgone
forthfromitselfintotheworld,space,ornature.Allthesegoingfortheffectivelyexile
thislifeofselfpresenceinindications(40)
Isthisthecase?

Husserldoessaythatininteriormonologue,theexpressivefunctioncontinues,butthe
indicativeonedropsaway.Inhiswords,...expressionsalsoplayagreatpartin
uncommunicated,interiormentallife.Theycontinuetohavemeaningsastheyhad
before(ibid.,p.278).Theydonot,however,functionasindications.Itisnotthecase
thatinsoliloquyonespeakstooneself,andemployswordsassigns,i.e.,asindications,
ofonesowninnerexperiences(ibid.,p.279).
Thereasonforthisisthatindicationsstandfortheirreferents.Butsuchstandingfor
seemsoutofplacewhenthereferentitselfispresent.Giventhereferent,wehaveno
motivationtoemployasubstituteforit.InHusserlswords:Inmonologuewordscan
performnofunctionofindicatingtheexistenceofmentalacts,sincesuchindication
wouldtherebequitepurposeless.Fortheactsinquestionarethemselvesexperiencedby
usatthatverymoment(ibid.,p.280).
Thekeyisthattheactsinquestion,theactsthatanimatethewords,arethemselves
experiencedbyusatthatverymoment.Thisistheimmediatepresencetotheselfin
thelifeofapresentthatDerridaistalkingabout.
DoesthismeanthatasDerridaclaims,theturntowardssolitaryspeechisactuallyan
implicitreduction?
Theclaimisbasedontwopremises:
Thefirstisthatanindicativesigncannotbeconceivedwithoutthecategoryofempirical

existence(42)
Thisisbecause,inindicationanexistingsignorempiricaleventreferstoacontent
whoseexistenceisatleastpresumed,anditmotivatesouranticipationorconvictionof
theexistenceofwhatisindicated.(ibid.).Inotherwords,indicationisaonetoone
relationoftwoexistents,beliefinthemotivatingthebeliefintheother.Mybeliefin
yourspeakingmotivatesmybeliefthatthereissomethinggoingoninyourhead.
Thesecondisthatthephenomenologicalreductionisareductionofsuchempirical
existence.
InDerridaswords,thereductiontothemonologueisreallyaputtingofempirical,
worldlyexistencebetweenbrackets.Wedontevenhavetoassumetheexistenceof
actualwordsinourheads.Insolitaryspeech,wenolongeruserealwords,butonly
imaginedwords.(43).Ashealsoputsthis,wecontentourselveswithimaginingthe
word,whoseexistenceisthusneutralized.Ithasnomorerealitythananyother
imaginedobject.Thus,inthisimaginationoftheword,wenolongerneedthe
empiricaloccurrenceoftheword.(ibid.).
Thus,noempiricalexistenceneedatallbepresumed.
Thesameholdsforheassociationswhichconnectindicationwiththeindicated

:Havingitsorigininthephenomenaofassociation,andalwaysconnectingempirical
existentsintheworld,indicativesignificationinlanguagewillcovereverythingthatfalls
subjecttothereductions:factuality,worldlyexistence,essentialnonnecessity,
nonevidence,etc.(Derrida1973a,p.30).
Isthisacorrectreadingofthereduction?Isthephenomenologicalreductionthesameas
thisturntosolitaryspeech?Isitthecase,asDerridaasserts,this,then,isalreadya
phenomenologicalreductionwhichisolatesthesubjectiveexperienceasthesphereof
absolutecertaintyandabsoluteexistence(44)?
Notexactly.Thereductiondoesnotendinthesphereofpureexpressionorpure
meaning.Itdoesnotendinthatofthementalacts.Itgoesallthewaytothelevelof
timeconsciousness.

ForHusserl,intheProlegomenaofhisLogicalInvestigations,empiricalexistencehas
adefinitesense.Itisthedomainexploredbythenaturalsciences.Theyshapeits
concept.AnaccountofthedifficultiesHusserlfindsinnaturalsciencewoulddivertus
fromourpurpose.Brieflynoted,theyinvolvetheparadoxesthatariseinourattempting
tousethenatural,scientificdescriptionoftheworldtoexplainourgraspofthisworld.i
AftertheLogicalInvestigations,Husserlattemptstoavoidthesedifficultiesby
bracketingempiricalexistence.Suchbracketingmeansthatwecannotusesciences
accountoftheworldtoexplainhowwecameupwiththisaccount.
Itdoesnotmean,asDerridastates,thatthephenomenaofassociationfalltothe
reduction.Insofarastheyareimmanentlygiven,thesephenomenaarepossibleobjectsof
innerperception.Theyformpartofthedomainthatisopentotheinspectionof
consciousness.Thisinspectionrevealstheroletheyplayinconsciousnesssmakingsense
oftheworld,i.e.,initsconstitutionoftheworldssensefilledpresence.Assuch,rather
thanfallingtothereduction,theirinspectionispartofitsgoal:thatofshowinghowthe
worldcomestopresence.
Amorecompletesenseofthereductionisimplicitinthislastremark.
Thepracticeofthereductionisthereverseofthatofconstitution.Constitutiondescribes
theprocessbywhichwebuildup,layerbylayer,thesenseoftheworld.Basically,this
processinvolvesthelayeredpositingofunitiesinmultiplicity.Differentunitiesposited
ononelevelbecomethemultiplicitywhichsuppliesthematerialforthepositingofa
higherlevelunity.Forexample,ourperceptionsofindividualobjectsinaroomsupply
thematerialforthepositingofsuchobjects,andthese,inturn,supplytheelementsfor
ourgraspofthesenseoftheroomasawhole.
Thereductionreversesthisprocesslayerbylayer.Performingit,wesuspendourbelief
inthepositedunitiespresentononelevelsoastoregardtheirconstitutingelements.We
candothisagainandagainuntilwereachtheultimatelyconstitutinglevel.So
conceived,thereductioncanbeappliedtoeveryconstitutiveprocess,includingthosethat

buildupourinterpretive,perceptualintentions.Tothepointthatthephenomenaof
associationlieattheirbasis,thereductionshoulduncoverthem.

ForHusserl,thereductioninthesenseoftheepochopensupthepossibilityof
thereductionunderstoodastheprocessbywhichweundotheworkofconstitution.The
reductioninthismorecompletesenseisnotreallyequivalenttoDerridasreductionto
monologue.Pursuedtotheend,itleavesintactneitherourmeaningintentionsnorthe
objectswhichfulfillthem.
It,thus,doesnotendwithasetofselfpresentmeanings,i.e.,themeaningsofthe
expressionsweemployinmonologue.Turnedtowardsourinteriormentallife,itundoes
(orsuspendsourbelief)intheirpresencetoseekouttheconstitutivebasisofsuch
presence.Thus,ratherthanbeingareductiontothepresenceofmeaning,thereduction,
asitproceeds,isareductionofthispresence.Thisfollowsfromitscharacterasthe
reverseofconstitution.Giventhatconstitutionproceedslevelbylevel,thepresenceit
constitutesalsohasitslevels.Thereduction,inreversingtheworkofconstitution,
suspends(orreduces)thelayersofsuchpresenceonebyone.Theonlypresencethatit
doesnotundoisthatoftheoriginal,nonconstitutedlayer.Thereductionofpresence
endswiththis.Ifwewishtoconceiveitasareductiontopresence,suchpresenceisthat
oftheoriginalhyleticdataofconsciousness.
Ultimately,thisisareductiontothegivennessofsuchdataintimeconsciousness.
Derridarealizesthis,since,asweshallsee,heturnsandexamineswhetherselfpresence
isreallypossibleonthisultimatelevel.

Derrida,SpeechandPhenomena,pp.4859
ThereadingbeginswithDerridasrehearsalofHusserlsclaimsaboutinteriorspeech.
Theyare:
Ininwardspeech,Icommunicate(indicate)nothingtomyself.Icanatmostimagine
myselfdoingthis.(48)
Husserldoessay:Butinthegenuinesenseofcommunication,thereisnospeech
insuchcases,nordoesonetelloneself.Onemerelyimagines(manstelltsich
vor)oneselfasspeakingandcommunicating(49)
Ininwardspeech,Icommunicate(indicate)nothingtomyself.Suchanoperationwould
makenosense.Theexistenceofmentalactsdoesnothavetobeindicatedbecauseitis
immediatelypresent.(48)
Husserldoessay:Inmonologuewordscanperformnofunctionofindicatingthe
existenceofmentalacts,sincesuchindicationwouldtherebequitepurposeless.
Fortheactsinquestionarethemselvesexperiencedbyusatthatverymoment
(49)
Generaldifficultieswiththisview.
Itseemstoimplyanimmediatepresencetomyselfofmyacts.ButHusserlsexampleis
someonesayingtohimself:Youhavegonewrong,youcantgoonlikethat.Whois
speaking.Whoisbeingspokento?Thereseemstobeasubjectobjectsplithere,a
divide,adistance.Butisthispossibleifinnerlifeisoneofsheerpresence.Presenceat
thesamemomentofsubjectandobject?
Doesntthepossibilityofinnerspeechpointtothepresenceoftheotherinone,ofinner
alterity.Isbeingaforitselfpossiblewithoutthisdivide?Isethicalconduct?
Withregardtolanguage:Languageislearnedfromothers.Itinvolvesindication,alterity.
Coulditnotbepossiblethatthisalteritybecomesinternalizedwiththeuseoflanguage?t
istosay,thatlanguageinimportingalteritymakespossibleourbeingasaforitself?
Specificdifficulties.
HowcanHusserlreallyspeakofourimaginingourselvesasspeaking.Isntimagininga
formofrepresenting.Itinvolvestheimageandthereality.Onerepresentsthereality
withtheimage.Theimagestandsintheplaceofthereality.Itindicatesit.Buthowis
thispossibleininnerlifeifeverythingissheerpresence.Thedifficultythenisthat
Husserlbothassertsthatonemerelyimagines(manstelltsichvor)oneselfasspeaking,
thatisonerepresentsoneselfasaspeakingandacommunicatingsubject(49)and
declaresthatsuchrepresentationhasnoplaceintheinnersphere.

Derridanextengagesinaverygeneralargumentagainstthedistinctionbetween
expressionandindication.ThisisthefactthatwhenIeffectivelyusewords,Imust
fromtheoutsetoperate(within)astructureofrepetitionwhosebasicelementcanonlybe
representative.(50).Thisisbecauseawordisasign.But,asDerridawrites,
Asignisneveranevent,ifbyeventwemeananirreplaceableandirreversibleempirical
particular.Asignwhichwouldtakeplacebutoncewouldnotbeasign....Asignifier
(ingeneral)mustbeformallyrecognizable...Itmustremainthesame,andbeabletobe
repeatedassuch...(ibid.,p.50).
Thisreturntothesignassuch,however,isnotareturnsomethingthatexists
independentlyapreexistingidealmeaning.Thesign,assuch,hasnomeaning.Thus,
thereturntothewordorsignisreallyarepresentationofthesignbyasubstitute,
somethingstandinginitsplace.Iutteraword.Isaythesamewordagain.Thenew
wordstandsforthepreviousutterance.Isaythewordagain.Againitstandsforthe
previousutterancewhichstoodforthepreviousutterance,etc.Eachnewspeakingofthe
wordthusrepresentsapreviousspeaking.
Ifthisiscorrect,twoconclusionsfollow.Thefirstisthatrepresentation(andhence
indication)isessentialtothefunctioningofsignsassuch.Onecannottherefore
eliminateittomakethedistinctionbetweenexpressiveandindicativesigns.
Thesecondisthattheidealityoflanguageassuch,andhenceofsenses,involves
repetitionandhencerepresentationandhenceindication.
LetmeshowthisbythecontrastbetweenHusserlnotionofideality,andthatofDerrida.
Husserlspositionisthatassertions,inexpressingsenses,expresswhatisideal.ForHusserl,this
isafundamentalfactofhistheoryofknowledge:Thefact,namely,thatallthinkingand
knowingisdirectedtoobjectsorstatesofaffairswhoseunityrelativetoamultiplicityofactual
orpossibleactsofthoughtisaunityinmultiplicityandis,therefore,anidealcharacter
(Husserl19001901,II,9;Husserl1984,p.12).
Thisfactexplainshowthesameexperiencecanhaveacontentinatwofoldsense,hownext
toitsinherentactualcontent,thereshouldandcandwellanideal,intentionalcontent(ibid.,II,
16;Husserl1984,p.21).
Thelattercontentisembodiedintheobjectsorstatesofaffairspresenceasasense.Thisisits
presence,inperception,asaunityinamultiplicityofpossibleperceptualacts.
AsIsaidlasttime,thisidealcontentcanbereturnedtoagainandagain.Itssensecanbe
repeatedlyconfirmedasthesame.Becauseofthis,theintuitivelyconfirmedsensecanfunction
asanitemofknowledge.Anindividualcanclaimtoknowsomethingandexpresshis
knowledgeinanassertionwhosesensecanberepeatedlyunderstoodandconfirmedbyothers
whofillouttherange(themany)ofperceptionsoftheoneobject,thisbyhavingtheactual
perceptions.

Derridasconceptionofideality,however,abstractsfromsuchperceptualsense.Itisnotthe
casethatthepossibilityofthereturnisgroundedonthepresenceofanidealsensethatcanbe
seentobefulfilledagainandagainbyintuition.Rather,thereturnitselfconstitutestheideality.
AsDerridawrites:...idealityisnotanexistentthathasfallenfromthesky;itsoriginwill
alwaysbethepossiblerepetitionofaproductiveact(Derrida1973a,p.6).
Thisact,however,isnotlimitedtosenses,whichHusserltakesasideal.Itdirectsitselftosigns
ingeneral.Becauseofthis,theyalsocancountasideal.Butidealityinthecaseofthesignis
theresultofrepresentation.Thus,theidealityofsignsnecessarilyimpliesrepresentation.It
doesso,Derridaadds,insofaraseachsignifyingeventisasubstitute(forthesignifiedaswell
asfortheidealformofthesignifier)(Derrida1973a,p.50).
Theidealityofthesign,Derridabelieves,isconstitutedbythisrepeatedactofsubstitution.In
fact,allformsofidealityare.Themodelofconstitutionthroughsubstitutionholdsforthe
idealityofthesensibleformofthesignifier,theidealityofthesignified(oftheBedeutung)or
intendedsenseand,theidealityoftheobjectitself(ibid.,p.52).Allthreeachievetheirideal
presencethroughrepresentation.Representation(Vergegenwrtigung)istheproductiveact
whoserepetitionproducesideality.
Notetheclaimoftheargument:Inbothexpressionandindicativecommunication,the
differencebetweensimplepresenceandrepetitionwearsaway(51).
Putintermsoftheattackonpresence,theclaimisthatthepresenceofthepresentisderived
fromrepetitionandnotthereverse.ThismeansthatthedirectpresenceHusserltakesas
definitiveofsuchspeechcannotobtain.
Suchpresenceisnegatedbytheabsencerequiredbytherepresentativerelation.AsDerrida
sumsupthisargument,...theprimordialstructureofrepetitionthatwehavejustevokedfor
signsmustgovernallactsofsignification.Thesubjectcannotspeakwithoutgivinghimselfa
representationofhisspeaking...
Asinvolvingthenotionofthepresenceofthepresence,thisisultimateaclaimabouthowwe
experiencethepresent.ItisultimatelyjustifiedbyDerridasaccountoftimeconsciousness.

Derrida,SpeechandPhenomena,pp.6069
Situation:Husserlsassertionthatthedistinctionbetweenindicationandexpression
showsitselfinsoliloquy
Itisnotthecasethatinsoliloquyonespeakstooneself,andemployswordsassigns,
i.e.,asindications,ofonesowninnerexperiences(ibid.,p.279).Thereasonforthisis
thatindicationsstandfortheirreferents.Butsuchstandingforseemsoutofplacewhen
thereferentitselfispresent.Giventhereferent,wehavenomotivationtoemploya
substituteforit.InHusserlswords:Inmonologuewordscanperformnofunctionof
indicatingtheexistenceofmentalacts,sincesuchindicationwouldtherebequite
purposeless.Fortheactsinquestionarethemselvesexperiencedbyusatthatvery
moment(ibid.,p.280).
Atthesamemoment,imselbenAugenblick,literally,atthesameblinkoftheeye
AccordingtoDerrida,theclaim,here,isthatselfpresencemustbeproducedinthe
undividedunityofatemporalpresentsoastohavenothingtorevealtoitselfbythe
agencyofsigns.
Ifthisisnotthecase,thenwecannotseparateexpressionfromindication.Alsosincethe
movetosoliloquyisanimplicitreduction,thistoofails.Thereisnoescapingempirical
contingency.InfactasDerridawrites,...ifthepresentofselfpresenceisnotsimple,
ifitisconstitutedinaprimordialandirreduciblesynthesis,thenthewholeofHusserls
argumentationisthreatenedinitsveryprinciple(Derrida1973a,p.61).
TheunderminingofHusserlsargumentationalsoincludeshisnotionofidealityand
henceofknowledge.ForHusserl,idealityisaoneinmanyphenomenon.Multipleacts
haveoneandthesamecontent.Wecanreturntothisidealcontentagainandagain.
AccordingtoHusserl,thisisafundamentalfactofhistheoryofknowledge:Thefact,
namely,thatallthinkingandknowingisdirectedtoobjectsorstatesofaffairswhose
unityrelativetoamultiplicityofactualorpossibleactsofthoughtisaunityin
multiplicityandis,therefore,anidealcharacter(Husserl19001901,II,9;Husserl
1984,p.12).
Thisfactexplainshowthesameexperiencecanhaveacontentinatwofoldsense,
hownexttoitsinherentactualcontent,thereshouldandcandwellanideal,intentional
content(ibid.,II,16;Husserl1984,p.21).Thelattercontentisembodiedintheobjects
orstatesofaffairspresenceasasense.Thisisitspresence,inperception,asaunityina
multiplicityofpossibleperceptualacts.Thisidealcontentcanbereturnedtoagainand
again.Itssensecanberepeatedlyconfirmedasthesame.Becauseofthis,theintuitively
confirmedsensecanfunctionasanitemofknowledge.Anindividualcanclaimtoknow
somethingandexpresshisknowledgeinanassertionwhosesensecanberepeatedly
understoodandconfirmedbyothers.
ThiswholenotionofknowledgehastobeabandonedwhenwesaywithDerridathat
idealityisconstitutedbyarepetitivesubstitution,i.e.,byarepetitivestandinginthe

placeofthathasthesameformastheindicativerelation.Itisnottheidealcontentthat
groundsthepossibilityofthereturn,andhenceofknowledgeinHusserlssense.Rather
thereturngroundsthepossibilityoftheidealcontent.
Thisreversalmaybeputintermsofthenotionthattheidealiswhatmaybeindefinitely
repeatedintheidentityofitspresence(Derrida1973a,p.6).
ForDerrida,toincludetheidealityofthesenseornoemainconsciousness(toassume
thatwecanencounteritdirectlyinourconsciousness)istoassumethatpresenceto
consciousnesscanbeindefinitelyrepeated(ibid.,p.10).This,however,assumesthat
thepresent,orratherthepresenceofthelivingpresentcansustainthisrepeated
presence.Here,asDerridaremarks:Theultimateformofideality,theidealityof
ideality,thatinwhichinthelastinstanceonemayanticipateorrecallallrepetition,isthe
livingpresent,theselfpresenceoftranscendentallife.ii
Itiswhatcanbereturnedtoagainandagain.Thepresenceofsomecontentthatcanbe
returnedasthesamepresupposestheselfpresenceoftranscendentallife.Thecontent
canbedirectlypresenttome,becausethelivingpresentis.Thereisnoabsenceinthe
livingpresent,initsnow,thatwouldseparatemefromthecontent.
Derridaspositionisthatthissupposedselfpresenceisactuallytheresultofarepeated
substitution.Inhiswords,thepresenceofthepresentisderivedfromrepetitionandnot
thereverse(Derrida1973a,p.52).Assuch,itsgroundisanonpresence.Itsbasisisthe
absencethatallowsthesubstitutetotaketheplaceofwhatitsubstitutesfor.Ijustsaid
allow.Ishouldhavesaidrequires.Ifpresenceitselfinvolvesabsence,Ineverdirectly
encounterthecontent.Ionlygraspitthroughitssubstituteorindicativesign.
WhetthenisDerridasargument?ItisthatwhenwelookatthePhenomenologyof
InternalTimeConsciousness,wefindthatHusserlbothaffirmsanddeniesthatthe
presenceofthepresenceinvolvesabsence.Here,asDerridaremarksphenomenology
seemstoustormented,ifnotcontestedfromwithin,byitsowndescriptionsofthe
movementoftemporalization...(Derrida1973a,p.6).
Thus,ontheonehand,Husserlassertsthattimehasalivingcore,whichisthe
punctualityoftherealnow.AshecitesHusserl:Thenowapprehensionisasitwere,
thenucleusofacometstailofretentions(SP,62;PhenomenologyofInternalTime
Consciousness,p.52).Inthisnucleus,wehaveunmediatedselfpresence.
Ontheotherhand,thebodyofthedescriptionsinthePhenomenologyofInternalTime
Consciousnessandelsewhereprohibitsourspeakingofsimpleselfidentityofthe
present.
Whyisthat?Inordertoappear,thenowwithitscontentmustberetained.(Otherwiseit
vanisheswithoutatracetheinstantthatitappears).Butretentionretainswhatisno
longerpresent..InDerridaswords,itretainsanonpresent,apastandunrealpresent
(Derrida1973a,p.64).Giventhis,wehavetosaythatthepresenceoftheperceived
presentcanappearassuchonlyinasmuchasitiscontinuouslycompoundedwitha
nonpresenceandnonperception....(64).

Indicationcomesinwhenwesaythatourpresentretentions,theretentionsthatformthe
verticalofHusserlstimediagram,represent(oraresubstitutesfor)thepast(orthe
absent,thenotpresent)content.Thus,insofarasthenowcanappearonlythroughits
retentions,itcanappearonlythroughindication.Indicationunderstoodasrepeated
substitutiongroundstheappearingnow.
Whatwehavehereisaformofarch(original)writing,theoriginalindication,which
groundsthepossibilityofsigns.
WhatwouldHusserlsaytothis?Hewouldsay,firstwehaveanexperienceofthedying
away,thepaling(verblassen)orfadingofatone.Thisisnotasubstituteforanything.
Weinterpretthisexperienceasanexperienceofthedepartureintopastnessofthetone.
Hewouldalsosaythatwhatwehavehereisaperceptionsincewehavethebasic
structure,contents,interpretation,intentionalobject.Thus,justasinperceptionI
interpretsensuouscontentsascontentsofsomeoneobjectandthusposittheobjectasan
x,soIhaveamultitudeofdifferentretentions,i.e.,palingcontents,andinterprettheseas
contentsofoneandthesamemoment.Heretheprogressivepalingofthecontentsgives
thisobjectthesensenotjustasanX,astaticmoment,butadepartingmoment.
Onecanalsoputthisbysayingthattheselfidentical,departingtemporalcontentthatis
constitutedthroughourinterpretationofthepalingcontentsisnot,inHusserlsaccount,
itselfarepresentation.Itisanoriginal,ifconstitutedpresence.
Itsoriginalitysignifiesthatitisgivenintheonlywayitcanbegiven,i.e.,asaconstituted
oneinmany.Assuchitstandsfornothingexceptitself.Justasanyperceivedobject
onlystandsforitself.
ThispointcanbeputintermsofHusserlsremarkthatperceptionisheretheactthat
placessomethingitselfbeforeoureyes,theactthatoriginallyconstitutessomething.
Retention(orprimarymemory)isperceptionbecauseitoriginallyconstitutesthepast.In
Husserlswords,ifwecallperceptiontheactinwhichalloriginlies,theactwhich
constitutesoriginally,thenprimarymemory[retention]isperception(Husserl1966a,
41).
Here,retention,namesnottheretentionsthatarepresentonthevertical,buttheactthat
takestheseasitscontent.Itinterpretstheircontinuouspaling(representedschematically
astheirdownwardmovementonthevertical)astheirbeingcontentsofacontinuously
departingpoint.Inthisitislikeourinterpretingthecontentsofaspatialobjectdeparting
fromus.Wetaketheshrinkingtogetherandpalingofthesecontentsaspointingtoa
spatialdeparture.
Aquestion:howdowedistinguishtemporalfromspatialdeparture?
Whatisthedifferenceinthepalingthatweobserve?
SpeechandPhenomenon,pp.7087
Derridasaccountofthepossibilityofsoliloquy.

Itisthevoicethatkeepssilencethatguardssilencethatmakestheillusionof
solitarysilentspeechpossible.
Suchspeechactuallyrequiresindication.
Indicationrequiresaphysicalmedium.
Thevoiceprovidesthisandyetdoesnotvisuallyappear(isnotpartofthevisibleexternal
worldandthusseemstobedistinctfromsignsasinthisworldpointingtootherthingsin
thisworld).Asaresult,thevoiceseemsinternal.Itgivesustheillusionofaninternal
selfpresence.
ThisillusionisfurtherstrengthenedbythefactthatwhenIspeak,itbelongstothe
phenomenologicalessenceofthisoperationthatIhearmyselfspeakathesametimethat
Ispeak.(77)
ThepointputintermsofKantsdistinctionofinnerandouter:innerperceptiongrasps
onlytemporalrelations,outerperceptiongraspsonlyspecialrelations.
Thevoice,asnotseen,isonlysubjecttoatemporalapprehension.
Thus,hearingoneselfspeak[occurs]inaselfproximitythatwouldinfactbethe
absolutereductionofspaceingeneral(79).
Thispresenceofthevoicetoconsciousnessisaselfaffection.Hearingmyselfspeak,I
affectmyself.Ihavethepossibilityofareturntomyselfthroughmywords.Withthis,I
havethepossibilityforwhatiscalledsubjectivityortheforitself(ibid.).
Theclaim,here,isthatnoconsciousnessispossiblewithoutthevoice.Thevoiceisthe
beingwhichispresenttoitself,intheformofuniversality,asconsciousness;thevoiceis
consciousness.(7980)
Derridasassertionthatthevoiceisthebeingwhichispresenttoitselfintheformof
universalityholdsbecausethisselfpresenceinvolvestherepeatedreturntothesame.
Wearepresenttoourselvesthroughanongoingprocessofautoaffection.
Eachtimeweaccessitselfitisthroughthewordsthatthevoiceembodies.Sincewedo
thisagainandagain.Thewordsarereturnedtoagainandagain.
Thus,hemediumthroughwhichthisreturnisaccomplished,i.e.,thevoice,achievesthe
formofuniversalitythroughthisrepetition.
Asaresult,itexhibitstheidealuniversalityofthesignificantsign.
Howcredibleisthis?Isitthecasethatwhenweceasespeaking,wearenolongerself
aware?Whatsortofspeakingisthisinsilentmonologue?Doesntthevoicehavetobe
silentaswell?
Derridaagrees:Hetakesthephonicelementinthephenomenologicalsenseandnot
[thesense]ofarealsound(76).

Thisisthevoicethatkeepssilenceinthesensethatitstayssilent.Butcanitfunctionas
aphysicalmedium.Perhapswehavetosaythatwhenwethinkinwords,thereare
suppressedphysicalmovementsofthelarynxandtongue.Theseprovidethephysical
medium.
Stillthequestioniswhetherthereisnotadeepergroundingofourselfpresence?Arent
weselfpresent,selfaware,evenwhenwearenotcarryingonaninternaldialogue.
Derridaseemstoadmitthiswhenhenotes:Whatconstitutestheoriginalityofspeech,
whatdistinguishesitfromeveryotherelementofsignification,isthatitssubstanceseems
tobepuretemporal.(83).
Suchtemporalityseemstherealbasisofourautoaffection.Infact,asDerridawrites,as
soononetakesthemovementoftemporalizationintoaccounttheconceptofpure
autoaffectionmustbeemployedaswell.(83).
Toestablishthis,Derridagiveshistheoryoftemporalization.
Thisthattemporalizationunderstoodastheadditionofnewmomentsandtheir
subsequentretentionresultsfromtheselfaffectionofthepresent.
ThisisbecauseunderlyingpresenceiswhatDerridacallsdifferance.
.Theargumenthereisthatbecausethereisnosimpleselfidentityinthemomentary
present,thereisaninherentdivideinit.Itsinternaldivisionmakesitaffectitself,the
resultbeinganewpresent.
Derridasposition,then,isthatthepresentreturnstopresenceinanewnowbyaffecting
itself.
ThecontrastherewithHusserlcouldnotbemoremarked.ForHusserl,thefactthatthe
theprimalimpression...isnotproducedbyconsciousnessmeansthatconsciousness
isnothingwithoutimpression(Husserl1966a,p.100).Thenowthatanimates
consciousnessisengenderedbyanexternallyprovidedimpression.
ForDerrida,however,theabsolutenoveltyofeachnowis...engenderedbynothing;it
consistsinaprimordialimpressionthatengendersitself.

Thisselfengenderingisaresultofanautoaffection.
InDerridaswords,Thesourcepointorprimordialimpression,thatoutofwhichthe
momentoftemporalizationisproduced,isalreadypureautoaffection....itisapure
production...itisareceivingthatreceivesnothing(Derrida1973a,p.83).
Thisfollowsbecausewhatoccasionsitisnothingempiricali.e.,nothingexternal.It
resultsfromthedifferenceintroducedintothenowbytheoriginaldifferance

ThismeansTime,asthemovementofthisautoaffectionisactuallythemovementof
thisstrangedifference(ibid.,p.85).
Thestrangedifferenceisdifferance,takenastheoperationofdiffering.Thisoperation
resultsinthepureproductionofthenewnowaswellastheretention(orretentionaltrace)of
thenowwhichthisnewnowreplaces.
Bothproductionandretentioncharacterizethelivingpresent.
Thus,forDerrida,Thelivingpresentspringsforthoutofitsnonidentitywithitself...(ibid.).
Differanceisalsoresponsibleforthispresentsselfpresence.
Thelivingpresentcannotbepresenttoitselfunlessitcanreturntoitselfi.e.,encounterits
presenceinaneworretainedmoment.
Thisreturnarisesfromtheoperationofdiffering,i.e.,theactionthatintroducesapure
differenceintothenow.Insofarasthisyieldsbothanewandaretainedpresence,...thispure
difference...constitutestheselfpresenceofthelivingpresent(ibid.).
Theterm,puredifferencethusdesignatesthenonidentitywithitselfofthelivingpresents
nowness,anonidentitythatallowsittoaffectitself.Insofarasthisselfaffectionresultsina
returntopresence,itpermitsthelivingpresenttobeselfpresent
ForHusserl,asImentioned,theadvanceoftimeistheresultofasuccessionofprimordial
impressions.Theirsuccessivepresenceistheexperiencedsuccessionofimpressionalmoments.
Thepremisehereisthatdistinctimpressionsgiverisetodistinctmoments.Timesadvancethus
dependsontheimpressionsnotbeingimplicitlyincludedineachother.Theymustcountas
distinctoriginalpresences.
Derridasaccountofautoaffectionmakeshimdenythis.Hewrites:
Theprocessbywhichthelivingnow,producedbyspontaneousgeneration,must,in
ordertobeanowandtoberetainedinanothernow,affectitselfwithoutrecourseto
anythingempiricalbutwithanewprimordialactualityinwhichit[thelivingnow]would
becomeanonnow,apastnowthisprocessisindeedapureautoaffectioninwhichthe
sameisthesameonlyinbeingaffectedbytheother,onlybybecomingtheotherofthe
same.Thisautoaffectionmustbepuresincetheprimordialimpressionishereaffected
bynothingotherthanitself,bytheabsolutenoveltyofanotherprimordialimpression
(Derrida1973a,p.85).
Toclaimthattheprimordialimpressionisaffectedbynothingotherthanitselfandtoequate
thiswithitsbeingaffectedbyanotherprimordialimpressionisactuallytosupposethatthe
secondisimplicitlyincludedinthefirst.
ForDerridaitis,insofarasdifferenceisinherentinthefirst.
Thisdifferenceallowstheprimordialimpressiontoaffectitself.
Inotherwords,itsbeingaffectedbyanotherprimordialimpressionisactuallyaselfaffection.

Thus,theadvanceoftimeisnot,asitisforHusserl,afunctionofdistinctidentitiesi.e.,distinct
primordialimpressionsaffectingconsciousness.
Differenceis,rather,priortoidentity.Thepuredifferenceinherentineachcontentfillednow
makesitaffectitself.Thisautoaffectiongivesrisetothenextnow.Eachnow,thus,hasits
identityasadistinctnowonlybybecomingtheotherofthesame.Ithasitbyvirtueofthe
selfaffectionofthesame,whichmakesexplicittheotherness,thepuredifference,inherentin
thesame.
Thisalsoholdsforthepastmomentsgivenbytheretentionaltraces.Theyarealsoinherentin
thepresentbyvirtueofthepuredifferenceitembodies.Thisdifferencemakesthelivingnow
...affectitself...withanewprimordialactuality,whichisanextnow,anewimpressional
moment.
This,however,makesitbecomeanonnow,apastnow.Givenbytheretentionaltracesthey
leavebehind,suchpastmomentscometobepositedasidenticaltemporalpositionsindeparting
time.
Whoisright?HusserlorDerrida.Isthesuccessiveappearingofmomentstheresultof
differenceorisitexternallyprovidedbysuccessivelygivenimpressionsasHusserlsays.
ForHusserl,thesuccessivequalityoftimeisultimatelytheresultofthesuccessivepresenceof
primordialimpressions.
Derrida,havingdismissedsuchprimordiality,cannotuseittoaccountforsuccession.Itsorigin
is,infact,differanceunderstoodasdeferringordelaying,i.e.,differanceinthesenseof
postponingtilllater(Derrida1973b,p.136).Differance,then,meansbothdifferingand
delaying.InDerridaswords,theoperationofdiffering...bothfissuresandretardspresence,
submittingitsimultaneouslytoprimordialdivisionanddelay(Derrida1973a,p.88).Byvirtue
ofthefirstsense,thesameisthesameonlyinbeingaffectedbytheother,onlybybecomingthe
otherofthesame(ibid.,p.85).Thisautoaffection,insofarasitresultsinthebecomingthe
otherofthesame,bringsaboutthenewnow.Byvirtueofthesecondsense,thisnewnowis
successive.
ForHusserl,successionispresentintheincomingimpressions.Butisnotthistopresuppose
timeassuccession.Initself,outthere,thereisonlychange.Whencecomesthespacingofthis
changethatwecalltime?

Derrida,SP,pp.88104
Theclaimofthissectionisthatthereisnooriginal,whatwehaveinsteadisaprocessof
continualsubstitution,onewhereonethingsubstitutesfor(orstandsintheplaceof)the
next.
Derridaputthisclaimintermsofthenotionofsupplementation.Whatissupplemented
isthelackoftheoriginal,thelackofitsprimordialpresence.InDerridaswords,the
addition[ofsupplements]comestomakeupforadeficiency,itcomestocompensate
foraprimordialnonselfpresence(87)
Sodefined,thenotionofsupplementationisperfectlygeneral.Itsconceptappliesto
everyindicativerelation.InDerridaswords,...thisconceptofprimordial
supplementationnotonlyimpliesnonplenitudeofpresence...itdesignatesthisfunction
ofsubstitutivesupplementationingeneral,theintheplaceof(fretwas)structure
whichbelongstoeverysigningeneral(ibid.,p.88).
Toapplythisstructuretotemporalizationistoassertthatthelivingpresentisnot
originallypresent.Itscontinuedpresenceistheresultofarepetitivesupplementation,
onewheresupplementsarerepeatedlyputinintheplaceofthispresent.
Thus,thenonplenitudeofpresenceofthelivingnowissupplementedinthedirectionof
thepastbytheretentionthatstandsintheplaceofthejustdepartedmoment.Derridas
claimhereisthatthenowcanonlyappearthroughitschainofretentions.Thechain,
however,isachainofsubstitutes,eachactingtosubstituteforthenonpresenceofwhatit
retains.Giventhattheoriginalappearsonlythroughthechain,wehavetosay,
phenomenologically,thatthechainisfirstandtheoriginalissecond.
Now,normallywewouldsaythattheoriginalisfirst.Itisactual.Theretentionsare
second,theyarepossibleonlyifthereisanoriginal,anoriginaltowhichtheyareadded
onasitsretentions.
Derridareversesthis:Heassertsthatwhatwehavehereisthestrangestructureofthe
supplement.Thisisonewherebydelayedreaction,apossibilityproducesthatto
whichitissaidtobeaddedon(ibid.,p.89).Hereparadoxicallyapossibility(the
retentions)producestheactuallyitissupposedsimplytobeaddedonto.
Thesameargumentcanbemadeaboutthearisingofnewnows.Wecansaythat
thenonplenitudeofpresenceofthelivingnowissupplementedinthedirectionofthe
futurebytheadditionofthenewnow.Thus,thenowthatappearsonlytovanishis
supplementedbythenextnow
Bothsupplementationsarebasedonanoriginalnonplenitude,i.e.,theabsencethatis
implicitinthedifferencethatunderliespresence.Bothoccurtogether.Thus,the
supplementationbythenewnowmakesthepresentnowajustpastmoment.Butthis
departurefrompresenceisonewiththesupplementationoccasionedbyretention.
Theresult,then,istime.Timeisthemovementofthisstrangedifference.Itsoriginis
thedifferancethatispriortotheselfidentityofthelivingnow.

ForDerrida,then,theactionsupplementationisactuallythatofdifferance.Difference
itselfinvolvesbothdifferinganddelayinginthesenseofpostponingtilllater(Derrida
1973b,p.136)
.
Thismeansthatitsoperationbothfissuresandretardspresence,submittingit
simultaneouslytoprimordialdivisionanddelay(Derrida1973a,p.88).
Byvirtueofthefirstsense,presencediffersfromitself.Itinvolvesnonpresence.
Fissuredbyit,itonlyappearstodisappear.Byvirtueofthesecondsense,this
reappearance,understoodasasupplementation,involvesadelayandhenceissuccessive.
Derridasclaimisthatthissuccessivesupplementationconstitutestheoriginal,i.e.,the
livingpresentasthesourceofevidence.Ifthisisso,thenitappliestoeveryoriginal
insofarasalloriginalityisgiveinthenowthatisthelivingpresent.
Inparticularitappliestoourbeliefthattheoriginofsignsistheoriginalwestandfor.
AsIcitedDerrida,...thisconceptofprimordialsupplementationnotonlyimplies
nonplenitudeofpresence...itdesignatesthisfunctionofsubstitutivesupplementationin
general,theintheplaceof(fretwas)structurewhichbelongstoeverysigningeneral
(ibid.,p.88).
Therestofthesectionisdevotedtoshowingthis.Hedoesthisthroughareadingof
Husserl.HewantstoshowthatwhenHusserlactssimplyasaphenomenologist,his
analysesconfirmDerridaspositions.Itisonlywhenhegiveswaytotheprejudicesofa
metaphysicsofpresence,thatheopposesthesepositions.
WhatIwilldoisgiveDerridasreadingandthengiveHusserlsresponse.
ThefirstpointconcernsHusserlsdistinctionbetweentheactsthatgivemeaningtoan
expressionandthosethatgiveittheintuitivefullness,inwhichitsrelationtoan
expressedobjectisconstituted.(90).
Derridaassetsthatthisdistinctionmeansthefulfillmentoftheaimbyanintuitionisnot
indispensable.(ibid.).Inotherwords,themeaning,understoodasasubstituteforthe
intuition,asstandingforit,canexistindependently.
Insupportofthis,hequotesHusserlagain:this[intuitiverelationtoanobject]neednot
occur:theexpressionfunctionssignificantly.Itremainsmorethanmeresoundofwords,
butitlacksanybasicintuitionthatwillgiveititsobject.(91).
Thisabilityofanexpressiontofunctionsignificantlyintheabsenceofintuitionmeans
accordingtoDerrida:Thefulfillingintuitionthereforeisnotessentialtoexpression,to
whatisaimedatbythemeaning.(ibid.).

Isthisthecase.HusserlwouldarguethatIcannotspeakofwhatIhavenever
experienced.Whatcomesfirstistheintuition.Ithasthesense,theoneinmany
structure,thatIgraspandusetoanimatemyexpression.
ThismeansthatIcanonlyteachachildthemeaningofaword,say,theboxafterthe
childhaslearnedtoidentifytheboxasoneandthesame,anX,intheflowof
experience.
Thisexperience,ofcourse,includesnotjustopticalbutalsokinestheticexperiences,the
experiencesofpickingupandmanipulatingthebox.
Theparentpointstotheboxandsays,box.Hearingthis,thechildlinksthewordtothe
perceptioninaonetoonerelation
Butthen,theboxisturnedbytheparentorthechilditselfmoves.
Theparentrepeatstheword,box.
Againthereisaonetoonerelation,butnowthewordislinkedtoanewperception.
NowforDerrida,theseonetoonerelationsaresubstitutions.Thewordsubstitutesfor
theperceptionwhichsubstitutesforthebox(thexthatisintended,whichisnotthesame
astheperceptionofit).Repeatedsubstitutionsofthiskindconstitutedthepresenceofthe
box.Theboxisthereforme,istheoriginal,throughsuchrepeatedsubstitutions.
ButforHusserl,thisrepetitiverelationisnotonetoone,butmanytoone.
Thus,eventhoughtheperceptionhaschanged,forthechildwhohaslearnedtosee,the
boxhasnt.
Forthischild,theperceptionispartofatotalpatternthatrefersthebox.Learningtosee
islearningtograspthesingleperceptionaspartofapattern(aninternalhorizon),allof
whosemembersrefertothesamething.
Inlearningtousethewordwithmultipleperceptions,thechildthuslearnsthatthelink
ofthewordisnottotheperceptionbuttothebox.
Alltheperceptionsrefertothebox,understoodasapointofunificationofthetotal
perceptualexperience.
TheirreferenceistoitsbeingthereasanX,i.e.,asaspecificoneinmany.
Thepointofthisisthatthegraspofthisoneinmany,orsense,isfirst.Onlyafterthe
childhasmanagedthiscanweteachhimtheappropriateuseofawordi.e.,touseit
withanunchangedreferenteventhoughtheperceptionschange.
WhatwouldDerridasayisresponsetothis?
HewouldthatsincetheXisneveritselfpresent,alltheperceptionssubstituteforit.

Husserlwouldrespondthatthesubstitutionsarenotjustonetoone,butmanytoone.
Eachperceptionisgraspaspartofahorizon,apatternofperceptions,thatrefertoone
andthesamething.Butthemanytoonerelationisthatofasense.Thisiswhattheword
expresses.
DerridasnextargumentisthatthedistinctionHusserldrawsbetweenlogicandgrammar
alsoimpliesthatmeaningisindependentofintuition.
Toviolatethelawsofgrammarmeansthatonecannotcomposeasense.Thus,Greenis
wheredoesnothaveanysense,nomorethanandisor.AsDerridaputsthis,pure
logicalgrammar,then,excludesfromnormaldiscourseonlywhatisnonsenseinthe
senseofUnsinn[senseless].(92).Oncewesatisfythis,wehavesenseeventhoughwe
haveexpressionsthatarelogicallycontradictory,suchasthegrammaticallycorrect
squarecircle.Suchexpressionshaveasense,eventhoughtheycanneverhavean
object.(ibid.).
Husserlsresponse:thewordhasasensebecausethemeaningsofsquareandcircleis
known.
ItisnotthecaseofMayanwriting.There,thedifficultyintranslationisthattheobjects
andceremoniesthatthescriptreferstonolongerexist.
Inthecaseofacontradiction,thisessentiallylacksthepossibilityofconfirmationand
henceoftruth.Butthismeansthattheassertionsintentioncanonlybecarriedout
symbolically;itcannotderiveanyfullnessfromintuitionorfromthecategorical
functionsperformedonthelatter,inwhichfullnessitsvalueorknowledgeconsists.It
thenlacksasonesays,atrue,agenuinemeaning(97).
Herethetruemeaningistheoneinmanythatisexhibitedbytheobjectinitsappearing.
Thisistheoriginofsense.Squarecircleonlyborrowsitsmeaningfromthoseofsquare
andcircle
DerridaassertsthatHusserlmakesthisdistinctionbetweensimplemeaningandthetrue
meaningbecausetheintuitionisticimperative,andtheprojectofknowledgecontinueto
commandthewholeofthedescription.(ibid.).
ThenextargumentDerridabringsforwardconcernsHusserlsaccountofsubjectively
occasionalexpressions.Thesearewords,likeI,you,yesterday,here,now,whereto
understandthemitis,Husserlsays,necessarytoorienttheactualmeaningtothe
occasion,thespeakerandthesituation.(93)
Derridadeniesthis,heassertsWhetherornotIhaveapresentintuitionofmyself,I
expressessomething;whetherornotIamaliveIammeanssomething.(95)Ashealso
writes,JustasIneednotperceiveinordertounderstandastatementaboutperception,
sothereisnoneedtointuittheobjectIinordertounderstandthewordI(96).
Theclaimhereisthat(1)suchoccasionalexpressionscannotinprinciplebereplacedin
speechbyapermanentobjectiveconceptualrepresentationandthat(2)thisimpliesthat

theyfunctionasmeaningsindependentlyoftheobjectswhichwouldsupplythemwith
sucharepresentation(94).
Husserlsresponsetothefirstisaflatdenial.Heassertsthat
everysubjectiveexpressionallowsitselftobereplacedbyanobjective
expression...,thelatterbeingonethatcanexplicitlyspecifyitsowncircumstances
(LU,Tb.ed.,II/1,90;F.,p.321).Inotherwords,itcanbecomeanobjectiveexpression
byincludinginitscontenttheelementswhoseabsencemakestheexpressionoccasional.
Thesearethereferencestotherelevantcircumstancesinwhichtheexpressionoccurs.
HusserlthenassertsthatThecontent,whichinaspecificcasethesubjectiveexpression
meansinorientingitsmeaningtotheoccasion,isanidealunitarymeaninginexactlythe
samesenseasacontentofafixedexpression(Ibid.).
Themeaningexpressedisaoneinmany,whenallthecircumstancesarespecified.So
whenIreplaceIwithJamesMensch,Ihaveanidealmeaning,i.e.,onethingthatcan
bepresentinmanydifferentassertions.
WhataboutthewordIinitselfdoesntithaveameaning?Notinthesamesenseas
JamesMensch.Thiswordandalsosimilarwords,accordingtoHusserl,functionas
universallyoperativeindicators(LU,Tb.ed.,II/1,82;F.,p.316).
Assuchanindicator,thewordImeansonlyyourvisvisintendshimself.Likeother
occasionalwordssuchashere,now,today,yesterday,etc.itpointstoacircumstance
inwhichitisusedwithoutexpressingthecircumstance'sparticularcontent.
Thismeans,accordingtoHusserl,thateveryoccasionalexpressionimpliesadistinction
betweentheindicating(anzeigende)meaningofawordandthe"indicated(angezeigte)
meaning"ofthecircumstanceitpointsto(LU,Tb.ed.,II/1,83;F.,p.316).Afurther
conclusionisthat,inunderstandinganoccasionalexpression,wemustpassfromthe
10
indicating(anzeigende)meaningtothe"indicated(angezeigte)meaning".
Ifwegrantthisthenweassertthatinanoccasionalexpression,meaningspersedonot
alter.

Theindicatingmeanings,assimplypointers,remainthesame.
Sodotheindicatedmeaningsofthevariousobjectspointedtobytheoccasional
expression.Thus,thefactthatsomeoneelseusesthewordItorefertoadifferentsubject
neitheraffectstheinherentcontentofmyownsubjectnorchangesthecontentofthe
wordIasauniversalindicator.
Whatchangesineachcase,asHusserlsays,is"theactofmeaning"i.e.,"thesubjective
actwhichgivestheexpressionits(understood)meaning"(LU,Tbed.,II/1,91;F.,p.
322).Thechange,inotherwords,isinthemovementfromtheindicatingmeaningtothe
variouspossibleindicatedmeanings,whichasapointerthewordIcanreferto.Granting
this,Husserl'soriginalassertionfollows.Thecontentmeantorreferredtobythe

occasionalexpressionisnotitselfoccasional.Itisjustasmuchideali.e.,capableof
beingheldconstantinadefinitedescriptionasthecontentofafixedexpression.
subjectivelyoccasionalexpressions
Derrida:Theabilityoflanguagetofunctionintheabsenceofintuitiondemandsthat
meaningsmustfunctionwithoutintuition.Itrequiresourbeinginprincipleexcluded
fromevercashinginthedraftmadeonintuitioninexpressions...(SP,92).
Husserlsresponse.Thisabilityrequiresaninitialintuition.Thefunctioningofmeaning
withoutintuitionisafunctioningofanintendingofarangeofperceptions.Themeaning
intendsthesameoneinmanythattheintuition(ifitwerepresent)wouldoffer.Butthis
meansthatthisfunctioningwithoutintuitionisbasedonanoriginalintuitive
acquaintancewiththeobject.

Difference,pp.129140
TwomeaningsinFrench:Todiffer(differenceasdistinction),todefer,toputofftolatter
Derridaproposestocombinethetwointheword,differance.
ThischangeofspellingcannotbeheardinFrench.Theunheardofqualitypointsbackto
somethingpriortobothdifferenceanddeferring
Theclaimisthatallsense,allconceptualizationreliesonthesetwo,butbothare
groundedondifference.
Note:theargumenthereisFichtes:Thegroundisdistinctfromthegrounded,ifitwere
thesamethenitwouldbeinneedofaground
Thus,Derridaclaimsthatdifferenceisneitherawordnoraconcept
Whatitdoesis:asgroundingtemporaldifference,setuptemporalspacing,
Asgroundingthedifferencebetweensigns,itsetsupsense
OnewaytowaytothinkaboutthisisintermsofHericlitussinsightthatdifferenceis
priortoidentity.Realityislikethebackstretchedbow
Ifdifferanceispriortoidentity,thenwecannotthinkofitasthedifferencebetweentwo
alreadyexistingthings.Thethingsthemselvesareonlypossiblebecauseofdifferance.
Thus,differanceisnotathingbutthegroundofthings.Ifthoughtisthing/object
thought,thendifferanceisunthinkable.
Itishoweverpossibletoseewhatitdoesthroughitseffects.
So,accordingDerrida,timeitselfisaneffectofdifference.
Underlyingthepresentinstantisadivide,adifference,thatmakesthenowdifferfrom
itself,andindoingsoproduceanewnow.
AsDerridaputsthis,Timeisthemovementofthisstrangedifferance(85)
Thedifferanceissuchthattimespresenceisneverallatonce,butalwaysdeferred.
Byvirtueofitsgroundingindifferance,thepresenceofthetimeinthenowisdeferredto
thenextnow,whereitspresenceisdeferredagain.
Anothereffectofthisisinlanguage.Heredifference,asgroundingthedifference
betweensignsmakespossiblelanguage
Note:thenotionoflanguagehereisthatofacode.ItisDeSaussuresnotion.
DeSaussure:themeaningsoflanguagearegivenbythedifferencesbetweenitssigns.
adifferencegenerallyimpliespositivetermsbetweenwhichthedifferenceissetup;but
inlanguagethereareonlydifferenceswithoutpositiveterms.Whetherwetakethe

signifiedorthesignifier,languagehasneitherideasnorsoundsthatexistedbeforethe
linguisticsystem,butonlyconceptualandphonicdifferencesthathaveissuedfromthe
system.Theideaorphonicsubstancethatasigncontainsisoflessimportancethatthe
othersignsthatsurroundit(140)

Point:themeaningofalinguisticsignisconstitutednotobjectitreferstobutbythe
differencesithastootherssystems
Anexample:Yousayred,butseeoneshade,Isayredandseesomeother.Howwould
wetellthedifferenceinourseeing?Wecouldnotifallourothercolorwordswere
adjustedaccordingly,i.e.,ifthesystemofdifferencesmaintaineditself.
Derridaspointinallthis:Everyconceptisinscribedinachainorasystem,within
whichitreferstoanotherandtootherconcepts,bythesystemandchainofdifferences
Itisnotintuitionthatdeterminesitsmeaningthen:thesignifiedconceptisneverpresent
initselfinanadequatepresencethatwouldreferonlytoitself.(140)
Ratherdifferencedeterminesthemeaning.
Note:ifwegrantthisthenwehaveanendlesschainofsignsreferringtosigns.
Thereisnointuitionanchoringit.
Differancethenascontrollingthislinguisticsystemisoutsideofit.
Suchaplay,thendifferanceisnolongersimplyaconcept,butthepossibilityof
conceptuality
Itisthegroundthatstandsoutsideofthegrounded
Itisthenneitheritselfaconceptnoronewordamongothers(140).
Thisiswhyitismisspelledwithana.
Howdowehandlethis.Fornormalphilosophicaldiscourse,theprinciplesofsuch
discoursearewithinit.Theyarespeakable.
Butdifferanceisnot.
AsDerridaputsthesituation:
WhatIputforthherewillnotbedevelopedsimplyasaphilosophicaldiscourse
thatoperatesonthebasisofaprinciple,ofpostulatesandthatmovesaccording
tothediscursivelineofarationalorder(135).
Itcannotsincewhatisatissueisatranscendenttruthoutsideofthesphereofwriting>

Whatremainsissimplyastrategywithoutfinality,ablindtactics,Onewhichno
longerfollowsthelineoflogicophilosophicalspeechWhatremainsontheeven
andtheaftermathofphilosophyistheconceptofplay,theunityofchanceand
necessityinanendlesscalculus.(135)
Whatdoesthisconcretelymean?ItmeansthatDerridawillnotputforthpositions,but
ratherdeconstructthem.Deconstructionmeansfindingtheoppositionsthatstructurea
text,seeinghow,tryingtosayonething,italsosaysthereverse.

Derrida,Differance,pp.139149
Whatisdifferance?Giventhatitisnotawordoraconcept,thisisahardquestionfor
Derridatoanswer.
Heattempts,however,variousanswers.
Hesaysthatthedifferencesthatpermitlanguageareeffects.(141)ofdifferance.
Differanceisthemovementofplaythatproducesthesedifferences,theseeffects
ofdifference.
Differanceisthenonfull,nonsimpleorigin;itisthestructureanddifferingoriginof
differences.(141).
Thiscauseisnotasubjectorsubstance..orabeingthatissomewherepresentand
escapestheplayofdifferences
Note:ifitwerethenbeing/identitywouldbetheultimateground,notdifference.
Butthenwhatisit?
Derridasays,Letusbeginagain.Differanceiswhatmakesthemovementof
significationpossibleonlyifeachelementthatissaidtobepresent,appearingonthe
stageofpresence,isrelatedtosomethingotherthanitself(142)
Thepoint:significationdependsonsomethingotherthanpresencei.e.,on
absence.
AsDerridaputsthisinSpeechandPhenomena,[t]heabsenceofintuitionand
thereforeofthesubjectoftheintuitionisnotonlytoleratedbyspeech;itis
requiredbythegeneralstructureofsignification,whenconsideredinitself.iii
AccordingtoDerrida,thisstructureisthatofindication.
Indicativesignsstandfortheirreferents.Substitutingforthem,theyrequiretheir
absence.
Thus,whenIhearanotherpersonspeaking,Itakehisspokenwordsassigns
indicatingthepresenceofthepersonsmentalacts.Suchactsarenotpresentto
me.IfIcouldseethem,ifIcouldsomehowentertheothersheadandobserve
hismentalfunctioning,suchsignswouldbeuselesstome.
thepossibilityoflanguagerestsonouravoidinganymetaphysicsofpresenceand
thisrequiresourbeinginprincipleexcludedfromevercashinginthedraftmade
onintuitioninexpressions...(Derrida1973a,p.92).
Whatistheoriginoftheabsencethatmakelanguagepossible?
Time.

Iftherewerenotime,everythingwouldcontinuetobepresent.Itwouldbelike
freezingthemovieononeframe.
Time,however,dependsondifferance.Onthenowbeingdivided,differingfrom
itself.
Thepresentintimeisconstitutedbyarelationtowhatabsolutelyisnotnotto
apastorafutureconsideredasamodifiedpresent,buttononpresencepureand
simple.
Inotherwords,itisbyvirtueoftheintervalthatseparatesitfromthepastandthe
future.Thisintervalisnotthepastmomentorthefuturemomentbutratherthe
spacingbetweenthepresentandsuchmoments.
Thisspacingisdifferance(itisnottime,butagroundoftime).
Thepresentmomentisamomentbyaninterval[thatseparates]itfromwhatitis
not,[i.e.,fromthepastandthefuture]
Thisdivisionthatmakestimepossiblealsodividesthenow.Itmakesitseparate
itselffromitselfsoastobecomeanewnow.
Thus,forDerrida,Thelivingpresentspringsforthoutofitsnonidentitywith
itself...(ibid.).Thenowalwaysescapesitsidentificationwithonepositionin
time.Itsbeingpresentisonewithitsdeparturefromthatinstance.Itspresenceis
mixedwithanabsencethatmakesitdepart.
Thisdivisionaffectseverythingthatisintime.Thedepartureoftimeisits
departure.Whatispastisnot.
SoDerridacontinues:
buttheintervalthatconstitutesitinthepresentmustalsodividethepresentin
itself,thusdividingalongwiththepresenteverythingthatcanbeconceivedonits
basis,thatis,everythingbeing(143)
Withthis,wehaveanewdefinitionofdifferance:
Itisthisconstitutionofthepresentasprimordialandirreduciblynonsimple
[sinceitcontainsthenonpresent]thatproposetocalldifferance(143)
Whatdifferancethenmeansisthateverythingintimeisselfdivided.
Inparticular,thesubjectitselfisselfdivided.Ithasnosimpleselfpresence.It
canknowitselfonlythroughlanguage.Ithasanindicativerelationtoitself,it
knowsitselfthroughsigns.
AsDerridaputsthis,quotingSaussure,language[whichconsistsonlyof
differences]isnotafunctionofthespeakingsubject

ForDerrida,thisimpliesthatthesubject(selfconscious)isinscribedinthe
language,thatheisafunctionofthelanguage(145).Inotherwords,no
language,noselfawaresubjectivity.
Corollary:animalsarenotselfaware.Theydonothavethelanguagetopresent
themselvestothemselves.
Note:herelanguageisnotasystemofsignsanchoredinpresence.Itisacode,
themeaningsofitselementsareconstitutedbytheirdifferencesfromeachother.
TheuseoflanguageissimilartotheemploymentofanycodeItimpliesa
playofformswithnodeterminedorinvariablesubstratum(146).
Allpresence,then,isderived.
Wethuscometopositpresenceandinparticular,consciousness,thebeingnextto
itselfofconsciousness...asadeterminationandaneffect.Presenceisa
determinationandeffectwithinasystemwhichisnolongerthatofpresencebutthat
ofdifferance(147).

Derrida,Differance,pp.149160
ThefinalpartoftheessayisDerridasattempttofindhistoricalantecedentsforhis
doctrineofdifferance.
Thedoctrine:thatpresenceand,inparticular,theselfpresenceofconsciousnessis
foundedondifferance.
Theclaim:thiswasNietzsches,Freuds,andHeideggersmove
Eachofthembasedpresenceandselfpresenceonsomethingelse.
ForNietzsche,wehavetheassertionthatconsciousnessiseffectofforcesandthatforce
itselfisneverpresent;itisonlytheresultofaplayofdifferences.(148)
Nietzsche:theviewisthattheultimaterealityisoneofwilltopower
Whatwehaveisadynamicofcompetingforces
Thedominantforcesetsthecharacterforwhatappears
Wehavemanysouls,asocialstructureofsouls(49),
thesoulisamultiplicityofthesubject(43),
itisamultiplicityofdrivesandemotionswhichisstrongest,thatwhichmost
expresseswilltopower.
Thatistheonethatappears.
Canwegetridoftheopposition?
No.Thereisnoinherentessentialunityintheworld.Nohigherconceptualunity
inwhichconflictsareresolved.
Thus,whatappearsisthewinneroftheopposition.Onamorebasiclevel,we
havethefactthatthedifferenceinquantityistheessenceofforce(148).
Toeliminateoneoftheforcesistoeliminatetheforceitselfasappearing.
Thus,theforceonlyappearswhenitactsagainstsomeopposingresistance.
Soalso,intheself,thedominateelementshowsitselfbyopposingtheothers.
Note:themodelhereisDarwinsviewoflifeasasystemofstruggleforexistence
Itonlyexistsintermsoftheopposition.
Derridasinterpretationofthis:Weshallthereforecalldifferancethisactive
discordofthedifferentforcesandofthedifferencesbetweenforceswhich
Nietzscheopposestothetraditionalmetaphysics(149)
AsforFreud,
Consciousnessisbasedonthetwoprinciplesofdifferance.

Thefirstdifferanceasdelayordeferring.Thus,theegointheinterestofself
preservationdelayssatisfactionofsomeofthedemandsoftheid.
Italsosubstitutesasymptomaticsatisfactionforarealone.Thebasishereisthat
ofsubstitutingapossibleforanimpossiblerepresentation.Thelatterisdeferred
(putoff)infavoroftheformer.
Apartfromthis,wehavethefactthattheunconsciouscannotdirectlybemade
conscious.Consciousnessandtheunconsciousdifferfromeachother.Andyet
theexplanationofconsciousliferequiresthepostulationoftheunconscious,
whichleavesitstracesontheconsciousnessintheformofsymptoms.
Here,weconceiveofdifferanceastherelationtoanimpossiblepresence,
(150).Thisisarelationtotheabsolutelyotherthatapparentlybreaksupany
economy
Thepoint:consciousnessissupportedbytheunconscious.Butthisistheidwiththe
deathinstinct.Werethisinstincttobegivenfullplay,consciousnesswouldvanish.In
thearchivesofconsciousness,asweshallsee,isaprincipleunderminingthem.

HereDerridasaystheestablishmentofapurepresencewithoutlossisonewith
theoccurrenceofabsoluteloss,withdeath(151)
Why?Becauseifonelettheunconsciousbecomefullypresent,theegowouldbe
overwhelmed.Itexists,therelationtorealityexists,throughrepression.
Withthealterityoftheunconscious,wehavetodealnotwiththehorizonsof
modifiedpresentspastorfuturebutwithapastthathasneverbeennorevery
willbepresent,whosefuturewillneverbeproducedorreproducedintheform
ofpresence.
Wehaveonlythetranslationofthisintosymptoms.Butthesymptomisnotthe
unconscious.Itisatracethatcannotbeconceivednorthereforecandifferance
onthebasisofeitherthepresentorthepresenceofthepresent.
(152).Thepointisthatthesymptomistheclothingofwhatitselfcannotappear.
Heidegger:
Theontologicaldifferance:
ThedifferancebetweenBeingandbeings
ThatBeingisdistinctfrombeings.

ForHeideggerthisisthedistinctionbetweenpresenceandpresent(Anwesenund
Anwsendenden).
Hisclaim:thisdifferenceisalwaysforgotten.
WearealwaystakingBeingassomebeingthatispresent(155)
Thus,wetakebeingasGod,matter,willtopower,history,etc.,etc.
Wemovefromstandingouttostandingopentostandingin,eachcycle
determininganepochinthehistoryofbeing.
Thequestion:whydoweforget,whydowetakeBeingasabeing.
Heideggersanswer:Beingisfinite,itcanonlyappearperspectivallyintermsof
someaspectofbeings.Itcanneverappearasitself.
Thus,thetraceofdifference(betweenbeingandbeings)effacesitselffromthe
momentthatbeingappearsasabeingpresent(156)
Thisisbecausepresencecanonlyappearasthepresenceofsomething.
Derridastake:thewholethingiscontrolledbydifferance.
Differance(is)olderthantheontologicaldifferanceorthetruth[presence,
disclosure]ofbeing.
Itisadifferancesoviolentthatitrefusestobestoppedandexaminedasthe
epochalityofBeingandtheontologicaldifference(154)

Derrida,Differance,SpeechandPhenomenaandOtherEssays,pp.129160
Overview
AconvolutedattemptbyDerridatodefinehisconceptofdifferance.Theconceptdoes
notsignifydifference,alterity,butratherwhatisgenerativeofit.Withitsa,difference
moreproperlyrefersto...theoriginorproductionofdifferences...(130).
Assuch,itisneitherawordnoraconcept(130).Thisfollowsfirstofallfrom
Saussuresposition(whichDerridaacceptswithoutcomment)thatdifferenceisthe
functionalcondition,theconditionofpossibility,foreverysign;anditisitselfsilent
(133).Itissilentsinceitisnotasignbuttheconditionforthepossibilityofsigns.The
logichereisstraightoutofFichte.Differanceresistsconceptualizationi.e.,
philosophysfoundingoppositionbecauseitsustainsit.(1334).
Thefactthatitisnotawordorconceptimmediatelyintroducesanambiguityinto
Derridasstatement:Withinaconceptualsystemandintermsofclassicalrequirements,
differancecouldbesaidtodesignatetheproductiveandprimordialconstitutingcausality,
theprocessofscissionanddivisionwhosedifferingsanddifferencewouldbethe
constitutedproductsoreffects.Thedifficultyisthatdifferanceisnotaconceptand
hencecannotbeplacedwithaconceptualsystem.Theconclusionthenisthat
differanceisaselfconcealingprocess.Itsaction,inproducingdifferences,isaself
concealmentinsofarasitcannotbegraspedintermsofwhatitmakespossible.
Derridaputsthisfundamentalpositioninanumberofways:
1).Saussuresnotionofthearbitrarinessofsignsandthedifferentialcharacterof
signs.Thetwoareinseparable.Arbitrarinesscanoccuronlybecausethesystemof
signsisconstitutedbythedifferencesbetweentheterms,andnotbytheirfullness.Itis
notthecontents,ortheintuitivefullnesswhichcorrespondstothesewhichisprimary,
whichdeterminesthedifferencesbetweenthesigns.Ratherthereverse.Theelements
ofsignificationfunction...bythenetworkofoppositionsthatdistinguishthemand
relatesthemtooneanother.(139).Giventhis,themeaningofthesignisarbitrary,not

determinedbyrelationtotheworld,butonlybyitspositionwithinthesystemofsigns.
(ThereisanechohereofPlatosdialectic,whereeachconcepthasmeaningonlyinterms
ofotherconcepts).Ontheonehand,thisviewallowsDerridatoattackHusserlsnotion
ofadequate,intuitiveselfgivenness:thesignifiedconceptisneverpresentinitself,in
anadequatepresencewhatwouldreferonlytoitself.Everyconceptisnecessarilyand
essentiallyinscribedina...system,withinwhichitrefersto...otherconcepts,butthe
systematicplayofdifferences.(140).Ontheother,itallowstheconditionforthistobe
placedoutsideofthissystem.Suchaplay,thendefferanceisnolongersimplya
concept,butthepossibilityofconceptuality.Itisthenneitheritselfaconceptnorone
wordamongothers(140).Thisiswhyitismisspelledwithana.
2.TheambiguityofthesituationthisleavesuswithissummedupinDerridascomments
onhisconclusion:weshalldesignatebythetermdifferancethemovementbywhich
language,oranycode,anysystemofreferenceingeneral,becomeshistorically
constitutedasafabricofdifferences.(141).Heimmediatelyaddsthattheterms
employedinthisdefinition,constituted,produced,created,movement,historically,etc.
arenotonlytobeunderstoodonlyintermsofthelanguageofmetaphysics(1412).In
fact,heusesthesetermsonlyoutofstrategicconvenienceandinordertopreparethe
deconstructionofthesystemtheyform.(142).
3.Asheearlierremarked,whatIputforthherewillnotbedevelopedsimplyasa
philosophicaldiscoursethatoperatesonthebasisofaprinciple,ofpostulates...andthat
movesaccordingthediscursivelineofarationalorder(135).Itcannotsincewhatisat
issueisatranscendenttruthoutsideofthesphereofwriting.Whatremainsissimply
astrategywithoutfinality,ablindtactics,onewhichnolongerfollowsthelineof
logicophilosophicalspeech..Whatremainsontheeveandaftermathofphilosophy
istheconceptofplay,theunityofchanceandnecessityinanendlesscalculus.
4.Thesamepointisputintermsofthemetaphysicsofpresence.Suchametaphysicsis
deniedbythepriorityofdifferance,ofitratherthanintuitivefullness,presence
determiningthemeaningofsigns).Thisprioritymeansthatdifferancedetermines
presenceratherthanthereverse.InDerridaswords,Wethuscometopositpresence

andinparticular,consciousness,thebeingnexttoitselfofconsciousness...asa
determinationandaneffect.Presenceisadeterminationandeffectwithinasystemwhich
isnolongerthatofpresencebutthatofdifferance(147).Giventhatallthetermsof
metaphysicsarethoseofpresence,differancecannotbedescribedthroughthem.
5.Atthispoint,differancebeginstoseemuncomfortablyclosetoHeideggersontic
ontologicaldifferencei.e.,thedistinctionbetweenbeingandbeings,theformergiving
thestandardbywhichthelattermanifestthemselvesineachepochofbeingaswhat
andhowtheyare.ForHeidegger,humanity(philosophers)standoutforarevelationof
thestandard,standopentoit,andstandin(insiston)it.Theinstanceconcealsthe
distinctionofbeingandbeingsandyetisinherentinit.Giventhatbeingisfinite,it
alwaysshowsitselfperspectivally.Assuch,italwaysconcealsitselflikeanyfinite,
spatialtemporalobjectshowingoneaspectbyhidingothers.Subjectively,such
concealmentshowsitselfinourinsistenceonthestandard,ourdenialofitsaspectival
character.Suchadenialisaconcealmentoftheontologicaldifferencebetweenbeing
(whichshowsitselfindifferentaspects)andbeings(asmanifestingthisoneaspect).
Thus,thedifferenceforHeideggerconcealsitself.
Askingwhetherdifferancefindsitsplacewithinthespreadoftheonticontological
differance,Derridarepliesthatthereisnosimpleanswertosuchaquestion.Infact,a
fewlineslater,heseesthedeterminationofdifferanceasontoontologicaldifferenceas
anintrametaphysicaleffectofdifferance.(153).Inotherwords,differanceisprior:
differance(is)olderthantheontologicaldifferenceorthetruthofBeing.(154).
HethenquotesHeideggerthattheforgettingofbeingispartoftheveryessenceofbeing
anditsconcealedbyit(156).ForHeidegger,onlywhatisdifferentiatedthepresent
entityandpresencebecomeuncovered.Thedifferencebetweenbeingandbeings
effacesitselffromthemomentthatpresenceappearsaswhatispresent.ForDerrida,
behindthisistheselfconcealingofdifferance.Differanceleavesatrace,whichisnot
apresence,butratherthesimulacrumofapresencethatdislocates,displaces,andrefers
beyonditself.(156).Inotherwords,howdoweknowthatdifferancecontrolsthe
situation?Throughtheactionofthisreferring.Herethepresentbecomesthesignof

signs,thetraceoftraces.Itisnolongerwhateveryreferencereferstointhelast
instance.Itbecomesafunctioninageneralizedreferencestructure.Itisatrace,and
traceoftheeffacementofatrace(156).Thus,sincepresenceisfoundedondifference,
italwaysreferstowhatisother.Allwehavearesignswhosesenseisnotinherent,not
basedonsomepresencetheydesignatethroughtheircontent,butwhosesenseisbasedon
theirrelations.Priortotherelataaretherelationsathemeofmodern(notpostmodern)
philosophysinceDescartesandthenewphysics.
WiththiswegetDerridasreadingofthemetaphysicaltextashavingretainedamarkof
whatitlostorputinreserve,ofhavingproposedthetraceassimultaneouslytracedand
effaced(156).Hisreadingofthemissimplyashowinghowtheyimplybothi.e.,
affirmanddenytheirthesis.
Theconclusionthenisthatdifferanceisanultimate,butunspeakableprinciple.Itonly
appearsthroughitsselfconcealingeffects,itstraces.Thereisnoessenceof
differance...thereisneitherBeingnortruthtotheplayofwritinginsofarasitsinvolves
differance(158).OlderthanBeingitself,ourlanguagehasnonameforsucha
differance[thedifferancewhichdeterminesthedifferencebetweenBeingandbeings].
(159)
AllofthissoundslikethenegativetheologyofthepseudoDennis,andDerridaisatpains
todistinguishit:whatisunnamablehereisnotsomeineffablebeingthatcannotbe
approachedbyaname;likeGodforexample.Whatisunnamableistheplaythatbrings
aboutthenominaleffects(159).IamremindedhereofVatimosweak(non
metaphysical)thinking.Derridasfinalreference,however,istoNietzsches
affirmationwithacertainlaughterandwithacertaindance.InterpretingDerrida,it
seemsthatintheendwehavethecheerfulnessoftheactivenihilist,theonewhocanlive
withoutmetaphysics.

Foradescriptionoftheseparadoxes,seeMensch1981,pp.925.

ii

Derrida1973a,p.6.Theextendedpassagehereis:Inorderthatthepossibilityofthisrepetitionmay
beopenideallytoinfinity,oneidealformmustassurethisunityoftheindefiniteandtheideal:thisis
thepresent,orratherthepresenceofthelivingpresent.Theultimateformofideality,theidealityof
ideality,thatinwhichinthelastinstanceonemayanticipateorrecallallrepetition,istheliving
present,theselfpresenceoftranscendentallife.

iii

Derrida1973a,p.93.Thetermmetaphysicsofpresenceoccursonp.51.