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What if Derrida Was Wrong About Saussure?$
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Russell Daylight

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780748641970

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748641970.001.0001

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The Horizon of Language

The Horizon of Language

(p.147) 8 The Horizon of Language
What if Derrida Was Wrong About Saussure?

Russell Daylight

Edinburgh University Press

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

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