Sunday, February 24, 2013

Aufhebung and Differance, or what difference does differance make?

Earlier in the OOO thread in this post Balder responded to my statement “Differance does not include ontotheology but rather refutes it” with this Derrida quote:

"Différance is not only irreducible to any ontological or theological--ontotheological-- reappropriation, but as the very opening of the space in which ontotheology--philosophy--produces its system and its history, it includes ontotheology, inscribing it and exceeding it without return." (Derrida, "Différance," Margins of Philosophy, p.6.)

In my research today on Derrida's response to Hegel's dialectic I came upon this book made available electronically, Hegel After Derrida (Taylor and Francis, 2001). Chapter 10 is of relevance here, “Hegelian Dialectic and the Quasi-Transcendental in Glas” by Kevin Thompson, starting at p. 239. An excerpt relevant to Balder's quote with initial commentary follows.

“Derrida himself has constantly reminded us of...the continuum of constitutive syntheses that his writings have attempted to expose...maintain a ‘profound affinity’ (M/15/14) with that very discourse that ‘summed up the entire philosophy of the logos’ (DG/39/24), the Hegelian dialectic.... Hence, a deep affinity becomes manifest between the concept of Aufhebung – the ‘speculative concept par excellence’ as Derrida recalls (ED/377/257) – and différance.... Given its ‘almost absolute proximity’ (P/60/44) to that most speculative of concepts and the entire onto-theological system it sanctions, the chain of infrastructural relations would seem to emerge – ‘unable to break with that [Hegelian] discourse’ (M/15/14).... In this sense and to this extent, Derrida’s thought remains faithful to the very intention embedded within the philosophical tradition itself and, more specifically, to the Hegelian system of speculative science as this tradition’s culmination. However, this simple repetition and affinity remain enigmatic in that it is precisely the Hegelian constriction of negativity, as a moment appropriated within a teleological economy of absolute presence, that Derrida’s work has most forcefully sought to call into question, i.e. to solicit. How then is this proximity to be understood?”(239-40).

I'll comment more as I read the chapter, but for now one can see Balder's Derrida quote includes (Hegel's) ontotheology, yet “exceeds it without return.” It might appear to be akin to Hegel's dialectic rephrased by Kennilingam as transcend-and-include.* But also note in the HAD quote that Derrida's so-called synthesis is not based on “a teleological economy of absolute presence.”** Or, in OOO terms, Hegel's version (as well as those developmentalists using his dialectics) is infected with the metaphysics of presence and lacks the the withdrawn. Hence the “without return” is missing, i.e., the missing is missing. Oh, that's a nice double negation without sublation...

In light of the above, and subsequent reading and evaluation, the terms I used in the quote at the top of this post were inexact and inaccurate. Differance does include but also refutes ontotheology. It is a very exacting process of discernment though, one which I'm learning to better articulate. More after reading the chapter.

* In that regard recall this post in the real/false reason thread where Derrida is “willing to apply the most rigorous standards of logical accountability (including the axioms of classical or bivalent true/false reasoning) and thereby locate those moments of aporia or logico-semantic breakdown that signal the limits of any such reckoning.” As noted elsewhere, Derrida's intent is not to eradicate what he's criticizing, just to 'open' or supplement it.

** Also a criticism in the real/false reason thread, how the mereology built from false reason in the MHC sublates (i.e., subsumes) the parts in its totalizing synthesis. Whereas the 'flat' mereology of the OOOers, which recognizing greater wholes, does not subsume the parts therein. And as per Bryant, this has significant political implications and consequences.

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