8/6/12

From a longer essay by Gary Moore Derrida on Peirce

I have left this formatting as is for obvious reasons.

From a longer essay by Gary Moore

Derrida on Peirce

In the second chapter of his Of Grammatology Derrida (1976, 48ff.) looks for authorities able to legitimize his attempt to out­line a semeiosis of infinite play, of difference of the infinite whirl of interpretation. Among the authors he quotes after Saussure and Jakobson, there is also Peirce. After having cited Peirce's statements that "symbols grow" and that "omne symbolum de symbolo" (CP 2.302), Derrida writes:

Peirce goes very far in the direction that I have called the de-construction of the transcendental signified, which, at one time or another, would place a reassuringend to the reference from sign to sign. I have identified logocentrism and the metaphysics of presence as the exigent, powerful, systematic, and irrepressible desire for such a signified. Now Peirce considers the indefinite-ness of reference as the criterion that allows us to recognize that we are indeed dealing with a system of signs. What broaches the movement of signification is what makes its interruption impossible. The thing itself is a sign. An unacceptable proposition for Husserl, whose phenomenology remains therefore—in its "principle ofprinciples"—the most radical and most critical restoration of the metaphysics of presence. The difference between Husserl's and Peirce's phenomenologies is fundamental since it concerns theconcept of the sign and of the manifestation of presence, the relationship between the re-presentation and the originary presenta­tion of the thing itself (truth). On this point Peirce is undoubtedly closer to the inventor of the word phenomenology: Lambert pro­posed in fact to "reduce the theory of things to the theory of signs." According to the "phaneroscopy" or "phenomenology" of Peirce, manifestation itself does not reveal a presence, it makes a sign. One may read in the Principles of Phenomenology that "the  idea of/214/ manifestation is the idea of a sign." There is thus no phenomenality reducing the sign or the representer so that the thing signified may be allowed to glow finally in the luminosity of its presence. The so-called "thing itself" is always already a representamenshielded from the simplicity of intuitive evidence. Therepresentamen functions only by giving rise to aninterpretant that itself becomes a sign and so on to infinity. The self-identity of the sig­nified conceals itself unceasingly and is always on the move. The property of the representamen is to be itself and another, to be pro­duced as a structure of reference, to be separatedfrom itself. The property of the representamen is not to be proper [propre], that is to say absolutely proximate to itself (propeproprius). Therepresented is always already a representamen. . . .
            From the moment that there is meaning there are nothing but signs. We think only in signs[1976, 49-50].

Thus, it seems that the whole Peircean theory of unlimited semeiosis supports the position of Derrida by which

if reading must not be content with doubling the text,it cannot legitimately transgress the text toward something other than it, toward a referent (a reality that is metaphysical, historical, psychobiographical, etc.) or toward a signified outside the text whosecontent could take place, could have taken place outside of lan­guage. . . . There is nothing outside of the text [there is no outside-text; il n'y a pas de hors-texte[1976, 158].


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