«There Is No Such Thing As Literal Meaning,» Stanley, «Fish in Three Days Are Stale,» Lyly in Euphues

Skjermbilde 2016-04-26 kl. 12.19.39.pngStanley Fish is quoted in the following senses in Behan McCullagh, The Truth of History (Routledge 1998):

(1). Stanley Fish has declared that texts do not have a literal meaning.”There is no such thing as literal meaning, if by literal meaning one means a meaning that is perspicuous no matter what the context and no matter what is in the speaker’s or hearer’s mind, a meaning that because it is prior to interpretation can serve as a constraint on interpretation.” (p135-1365).

(2) When Stanley Fish discussed the problem, he noted that some historians such as Elizabeth Fox-Genovese had resolved it by simply declaring that historians can discover the truth about the past. His reply is that historians cannot know the past because in describing the past they use a language, “and that language must itself proceed from some ideological vision.” (p170)


The End of Power?

“‘How do you discuss anything with this many members? lol.’ A single Facebook comment thread, indeed, is possibly not the best place for a large-scale book group. Perhaps Zuckerberg can wield some more of his power to fix that.” (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/08/mark-zuckerberg-the-end-of-power-facebook-book-club)

keanu zuckerberg

“”Thus it is hardly surprising that children should enthusiastically start their education at an early age with the Absolute Knowledge of computer science; while they are still unable to read, for reading demands making judgments at every line; and is the only access to the wealth of pre-spectacular human experience. Conversation is almost dead, and soon so too will be those who knew how to speak.” (Debord, 1988)

“From its inception, UNESCO had adopted a very precise scientific definition of the illiteracy which it strove to combat in backward countries. When the same phenomenon was unexpectedly seen to be returning, but this time in the so-called advanced nations, rather in the way that the one who was waiting for Grouchy instead saw Blucher join the battle, it was simply a matter of calling in the Guard of experts; they carried the day with a single, unstoppable assault, replacing the word illiteracy by ‘language difficulties’” (ibid)

“Baring argues that this essay is exemplary as a response to the conflicting demands of the exams, with their dual demands of patient, pedagogical exposition coupled with individuating personal brilliance, and that it anticipates in broad strokes some of the claims and structure of Speech and Phenomena. Baring then turns to the latter text, providing a careful outline of its argument and showing that it too follows the principles governing the agrégation. Derrida’s “broad sweep over the totality of Husserl’s philosophy allowed him to provide a relatively standard and clear account of phenomenology . . . thus fulfill[ing] the pedagogical section of the agrégation” (250). This provides the basis from which emerges Derrida’s interpretative intervention (his “personal brilliance”), showing the ways Husserl’s system undermines its own claims.” (http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/32600-the-young-derrida-and-french-philosophy/)

The Bright Side of Deconstruction

Derrida meme

In the previous post I wrote about what I find to be some uncanny parts of deconstruction. In this post I’ll quote from one of the most inspiring essays by Derrida that I’ve read so far, and a much brighter one, as I see it. Here he writes about Levinas’ philosophy, and the ethical respect for the otherness of the other, and the otherness of the origin of the trace that is outside being, before any human questioning about being, the turning towards light and clarity through the difference of shades of brightness, with references to i.e. Plato. The essay is titled Violence And Metaphysics from the book Writing and Difference (from 1967, the year deconstruction broke). I’ll comment on the quote later. In this essay there’s also some beautiful quotes on metaphors and language, a more beautiful and poetic way to put deconstruction as I see it. But here’s the first quote:

“Without intermediary and without communion, absolute proximity and absolute distance: “eros in which, within the proximity to the other, distance is integrally maintained; eros whose pathos is made simultaneously of this proximity and this duality.” A community of nonpresence, and therefore of nonphenomenality. Not a community without light, not a blindfolded synagogue, but a community anterior to Platonic light. A light before neutral light, before the truth which arrives as a third party, the truth “which we look toward together,” the judgmental arbitrator’s truth. Only the other, the totally other, can be manifested as what it is before the shared truth, within a certain nonmanifestation and a certain absence. It can be said only of the other that its phenomenon is a certain nonphenomenon, its presence (is ) a certain absence. Not pure and simple absence, for there logic could make its claim, but a certain  absence. Such a formulation shows clearly that within this experience of the other the logic of noncontradiction, that is, everything which Levinas designates as “formal logic,” is contested in its root. This root would be not only the root of our language, but the root of all of Western philosophy,20  particularly phenomenology and ontology. This naïveté would prevent them from thinking the other (that is from thinking; and this would indeed be the reason why, although Levinas, “the enemy of thought,” does not say so), and from aligning their discourse with the other. The consequence would be double. (a) Because they do not think the other, they do not have time. Without time, they do not have history. The absolute alterity of each instant, without which there would be no time, cannot be produced—constituted—within the identity of the subject or the existent. It comes into time through the Other. Bergson and Heidegger would have overlooked this (De l’existence à l’existent  [hereafter EE ]), and Husserl even more so. (b) More seriously, to renounce the other (not by being weaned from it, but by detaching oneself from it, which is actually to be in relation to it, to respect it while nevertheless overlooking it, that is, while knowing it, identifying it, assimilating it), to renounce the other is to enclose oneself within solitude (the bad solitude of solidity and self-identity) and to repress ethical transcendence.”

Writing and Difference, pages 112-113

The Partially Examined Life

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I was just listening to episode #51 of the podcast named in the headline realizing how funny talk about deconstruction tends to be, at least if you by the end of the day manage to get past the anger and frustration that all the puns and (high level) nanny nanny boo boo stuff can give you. In the podcast jokes where made after one of the guys had compared Derrida-texts to the Bible. Mark than said something like: »there’s so much genesis in them!« A lot of cheerful laughter followed. It reminds me of a lecture I once was at, sitting in a room where a latch keeps locking the door for the students going to the toilet etc. We were reading Derrida’s Before The Law-essay, and could make some funny jokes and puns about it during the breaks. That’s one of the things I really like about deconstruction, the humor which squeezes out of its machinery of mazes.


Link to the episode: http://www.partiallyexaminedlife.com/2012/02/29/derridas-structure-sign-and-play-in-the-discourse-of-the-human-sciences-dissection-part-i/