A critical comparison of two influential philosophers' appraches to language
Derrida and Wittgenstein
Newton Garver and Seung-Chong Lee
paper EAN: 978-1-56639-374-4 (ISBN: 1-56639-374-4)
"This is one of the better books in American Philosophy. The evaluation of Wittgenstein is the best yet by far, and the devaluation of Derrida, despite the various compliments paid him, is quite devastating. Derrida and Wittgenstein is sure to get world attention."
Lionel Abel, Professor Emeritus, State University of New York, Buffalo
Though Derrida and Wittgenstein emerged from vastly different cultural and intellectual traditionsDerrida from the French and Wittgenstein from the Britishboth distrust the "totalizing" concept of metaphysics. In this way, the two belong to the broad contemporary movement of analytical skepticism. Newton Garver and Seung-Chong Lee discuss this commonality, Derrida and Wittgenstein's similar view that language is the key to understanding philosophy, as well as distinguishing the differences between Derrida's style of obscure terminology, long, involved sentences, and multiple meanings, and Wittgenstein's approach to writing, which makes use of simple, familiar analogies and similes.
Looking at Derrida and Wittgenstein's place in the history of philosophy, Garver and Lee assert that while Derrida is playful and witty, this method often obscures his ideas; conversely, Wittgenstein is considered the better philosopher because of his use of naturalism to resolve the problems of Kant's version of critical philosophy. The authors explore structuralism and metaphors as linguistic devices central to the theories and criticism of both Derrida and Wittgenstein.
Working to eschew the often uncritical interpretations given to Derrida's and Wittgenstein's works, the authors seek to further a fundamental understanding of what philosophy is and of how it operates. Toward this end, they explore the role of language, grammar, and logic in relation to metaphysics within the context of Derrida and Wittgenstein's incompatible, but oddly complementary, linguistic theories.
"Derrida and Wittgenstein is civilized and decidedly intelligent and scrupulous. I am aware that all three epithets are usually dismissive. But I mean them as high compliments. You cannot read this book without entering into the joyful business of understanding the philosophical odyssey of the Westor learning that your best discoveries have indeed been tactually prepared for you by the unfolding text."
Joseph Margolis, Professor of Philosophy, Temple University
"This is a fascinating and illuminating work, certain to be controversial. It brings Wittgenstein and Derrida into a common intellectual space shaped by, among other things, structuralism, Husserl, and medieval philosophy. It will be of interest to everyone concerned with Wittgenstein and Derrida, and philosophy of language generally."
John McCumber, Professor of Philosophy and German, Northwestern University
2. Structure and Metaphor
The Problem of Metaphors The Challenge of False Propositions Phonemes and Phonemics Structuralism The Challenge of Metaphor Ways of Refusing the Challenge Metaphors and Meaning Metaphors and Philosophy
3. Logic and Rhetoric
Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric The Ascendancy of Logic 'Authentic' and 'Inauthentic' Philosophy Based on Rhetoric Derrida's Criticism of Husserl Two Slogans
4. Rousseau and Logocentrism
Rousseau's Mischievous Challenge Derrida on Rousseau on Language Texts and Logocentrism Wittgenstein on Differences Contradiction and Reference Différance The Metaphysics of Différance The Emptiness of Grammatology
5. Grammar and Metaphysics
Origin of the Problem The Exclusion of Epistemology Wittgenstein's Encounter with Grammar Logic Based on Grammar Categories and Language-Games Metaphysics Based on Grammar
6. Style and Philosophy
The Derrida Phenomenon Focusing on Texts Style Definitions/Examples Self-Referentiality
7. In the Beginning
Newton Garver is Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has published numerous articles and books, including This Complicated Form of Life: Essays on Wittgenstein.
Seung-Chong Lee is Instructor of Philosophy at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.
Philosophy and Ethics
Literature and Drama
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