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Derrida and "Differance"
Kevin Chen
17 October 2000
Another outline by Lily Huang

Thesis Statement:
To question and to dissipate the "phonocentrism"  and "logocentrism" of Western metaphysics, Jacques Derrida, through his reading of the Western philosophers, designates a new kind of practice and deconstructs this system by indicating and playing on the notions of "differance", "trace," supplement and writing.
I.Differance, both the domination of nothing and "the subversion of every realm," "solicites"¨ the "ontology of presence"(Derrida 401).

A.Derrida uses "-ance" instead of "-ence,"  which is appropriated from the French verb "differer" meaning "to differ"¨ (to be different) and ¡§to defer," to point out that a significance is given by its difference and, ambiguously, it can never come to its definite end, keeping ceaselessly deferring (Derrida 385).

B.Differance is something beyond our understanding, never being realized in logic (Derrida 386).

1.Its "graphic difference" is only graphic, for that the "a"  replacing the "e" can be written or read but never can be heard. (Derrida 386) 

2.It appears and hide, being present and absent, belonging to "no category of being" (Derrida 388).

3.Differance (with an a) is neither active nor passive; it acts as a compensation for the sense of difference (with an e) that can never reach the goal "to differing," "to temporalizing" (Derrida 389-390).
C.Trace is the "self-effacing" of meaning in any spoken or written utterance. The play of trace has neither meaning nor depth.It points to nothing, belonging to no place.Trace could be the simulacrum of a presence and refers beyond itself; "in presenting itself it becomes effaced" (Derrida 403-04).

II.How Derrida looks at the Western philosophers.

A.For Husserl sign is expressed by "being present," and our knowledge comes from experiencing the presence of the perceptual world.Derrida argues that there is no pure expression of presence; signifier always points to another signifier, and there is no direct, definite referring to the signified (Sarup 35-36).

B.Rousseau thinks speech is the originality and writing its supplement.Derrida shows us how Rousseau in his Essay on The Origin of Languages contradicts himself (Sarup 39).

C.Levi-Strauss, based on a sort of binary opposition, attempts to discover the general structure of human activity, and writing for him functions as an instrument to regain the primitive mind that has long been lost.Derrida questions the existence of general law, for whom Levi-Strauss¡¦ idea of writing only shows illusive nostalgia (Sarup 39-40).

D.Freud relates writing to the "dream work": condensation as metaphor, displacement as metonymy, consideration of representability as image. And secondary revision as an apparent connectedness.Derrida develops Freud¡¦s theory to the extent of reading text; for the text we examine the moment when the text slips from the law it designs for itself (Sarup 42-42).

E.Lacan takes the structure of language to explain the unconscious. It is impossible, in Lacan's view, for an individual to reach his total personality; "the subject" is everlastingly detached from the object at which his desire aims.Derrida thinks that Lacan believes himself reveal the "true" Freud, and he questions Lacan's idea of "truth" and "authenticity" (Sarup 43-44). 

F.For Nietzsche, there is no single truth and fixed, concrete "self-identical meaning" in reality, and every idea emerges from "an equating of the unequal.The "will to truth" is the "will to power." Derrida follows Nietzsche's interpretation of language and meaning.Metaphor works in language and constantly transfers from one reality to another, thus structuring discourses and forming our conceptions (Sarup 45-48).

III. Deconstruct "Little Red Riding Hood" 
Works Cited
Derrida, Jacques."Differance."Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan.Literary Theory: An Anthology.Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1998.
Sarup, Madan.An Introductory Guide to Post-structuralism and Postmodernism.2nd ed.Hertfordshire: Harvester, 1993.