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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
Isaiah Berlin
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
C. Lloyd Morgan
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida was a sort of enfant terrible of philosophy who attacked conventional thinking on the meaning (semantics) of philosophical terms. He undermined much of traditional and especially Anglo-American analytic-linguistic philosophy, e.g., Bertrand Russell. Where American philosophers like Willard van Orman Quine sought for an authoritative "meaning of meaning" in Russellian and Fregean "theories of reference," Derrida saw meaning as constantly shifting in time with usage (cf., the later Wittgenstein's meaning as use, which precipitated his break with Russell's logical atomism).

Where structuralists saw meaning as determined by the contrast between a word and the many possible synonyms that could replace it "synchronically" in a sentence (Saussure's "difference"), Derrida saw its meaning as constantly shifting - dis-sem-inating - "diachronically," as the future alters the meaning of the past, making a deferred "differance."

Derrida's coinage of a word that sounds the same (in both French and English) as "difference" (one of the most important words in literary criticism and philosophy) allows him to deconstruct any privilege of the spoken word (the phonocentrism of Plato) over writing (the text).

Derrida was a culture critic with an enormous influence on philosophy, law, anthropology, linguistics, sociology, psychoanalysis, political theory, and feminism. His notion of close semiotic analyses and textual "deconstruction" (il n'y a pas hors de texte) burned like wildfire through American philosophy and English departments in the 1970's and 80's, although few Americans really understood his complex, flamboyant language, his dazzling neologisms (in multiple languages), and his deeply skeptical relativistic arguments attacking the philosophical claims of linguistic analytic philosophy.

Derrida's deconstruction was a core element of what became known as post-modernism.

It is very difficult to understand Derrida's unique contributions to philosophy, because on the surface they appear to be playful language games, but underneath they carry deep moralistic attitudes about conventional - and what Derrida believed to be, hypocritical - western morality.

Derrida's work is hard to separate from a constellation of thinkers important to continental philosophy, especially those who contributed to the flowering of French philosophical thinking in the 1960's. They include Ferdinand de Saussure (the signifier and the signified - s/S) and the many structuralists and post-structuralists that he inspired, e.g, Claude Lévi-Strauss (language determinism - myths/texts using us - cf., the Sapir-Whorf hyopthesis), the structural linguist Roman Jakobson (displacement, when poetics becomes metonymic), psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (the lack, absence), Roland Barthes (binary oppositions, no transcendental signified - S/Z), the poet Stéphane Mallarmé (absence preferable to presence),

Derrida's influences also include giants of European philosophy who also played with - or deeply questioned - the meanings of words and the philosophical concepts behind them, starting with Plato's Cratylus, René Descartes, Friedrich Nietzsche, G. W. F. Hegel, Edmund Husserl, and Martin Heidegger.

Richard Rorty resigned his professorship of philosophy at Princeton to become a professor of literary criticism at the University of Virginia, because sterile analytic philosophy had collapsed under criticisms like that starting with Ludwig Wittgenstein and ending with Jacques Derrida.

The Methodology and Terminology of Derridean Deconstruction
As a method of philosophical and literary criticism, deconstruction seeks to discover structures in thought, in texts, and expose any implicit hierarchy (privilege, centering) in a structure. Derrida's principal deconstructive target is Plato's privilege of speaking (the author's voice) over writing, an implicit contradiction since all of Socrates' writing is only known to us through Plato's writing. (If S is M, and M is P, then S is P - Socrates is Plato, in Derrida's Jeu des Cartes.)

Derrida's tactic is to reverse any structural hierarchy (this appears to be the purely deconstructive step, inspired in part by Nietzsche's questioning of which comes first - which cause and which effect? - the "pin" or the "pain"?). The reversed structure is unable to sustain itself, of course, resulting in a final step which neutralizes the hierarchy. This final step is not seen as necessarily negative or nihilistic, but simply as an interruption or displacement of the dialectical synthesis (Hegelian aufheben).

The principal structure exposed in most deconstructive philosophy is the classical binary opposition (or dualism) of idealism versus materialism, which Barthes and Derrida call the basis for the Western epistémè, and possibly for all thought. In deconstructive literary criticism, foundational triplicities (or triads) are also targets, most notably the genetic metaphor (birth, life, death), the Judaeo-Christian architelic cycle (an original Eden, an alienating Fall, and a future atonement or redemption), and sexual/reproductive metaphors (Freud's Oedipus complex, etc.).

One structure that needs critical attention from Derrida is the Hegelian dialectic itself, which is clearly the structure or process underlying deconstruction. The Hegelian negation, followed by the negation of the negation or aufheben, was described by Heidegger as destruction (destruktion), followed by reappropriation of the whole (wiederholung). In Derrida's terminology, it becomes deconstruction, followed by relever (a word with the same connotations of cancelling and uplifting as aufheben). Derrida knows that his work, like any relativist or skeptical position, risks the self-referential danger of deconstructing deconstruction itself. Indeed, his dissemination is an unavoidable interruption of the aufheben/relever, forever blocking reappropriation of the lost origin or thesis.

An important deconstructive reading (or misreading) of deconstruction could be to expose it as a not so subtle version of the sexual/reproductive metaphor. Derrida, and his influential precursor Lacan (a sexual Lack), were both heavily loaded with Freudian terminology and technique. Derrida's other great influences, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Heidegger, participated in the sexual reading of the founding binary opposition or dualism of idealism-materialism as male-female (since Aristotle).

That Derrida is playing with himself and with his readers becomes clear in his vision of dissemination, the irresistible movement (free play) of the infinite chain of signifiers never producing a "transcendental signified" (Barthes' S/Z). No skeptical relativist can ever make a consistent knowledge claim, and thus Derrida's reproductive metaphor becomes a process that never produces a product. The logocentric-phallocentric-phonocentric signifier is forever prematurely ejaculating, the seed spilling and the hymen eternally folded, always intact as it is always ravished. The result is a seed/signifier that never conceives a concept/signified, writing as continuous coitus interruptus.

Although feminist critics like Kristeva and Spivak seem comfortable with Derrida's apparent emasculation of structuralism and the death of the author as father, the whole sexual reading is a pen-as-penis misadventure that should be discredited back to Aristotle except as a productive literary metaphor. Feminists who see a positive gesture in Derrida's identification of the blanks or spaces as female between the male signifiers are being seduced by associations of creativity and openness and non-closure. Derrida's prelude or foreplay will leave them unsatisfied in the long run, deferred forever with no consummation or orgasm, if they accept his image of the sign as a limp phallus that "comes too soon" (Elle - le [le sens] laisse d'avance tomber, Dis 300 and Spivak/Derrida lxvi). They should seize the word. Carpe verbum. Women provide just as many chromosomes to a new signifier as do males, and they can nourish it and bring it to "term" (i.e., add it to the language). Women join men as equals in textual intercourse.

Glossing Jacques Derrida's master concepts or master words, perhaps master metaphors or controlling tropes?. Parléz-vous Derrida? Oui, un peu.


Absence (death or non-existence of the author)
Abyss (Nietzsche, Zoroaster, Schopenhauer)
Alterity (Otherness)
Always already (immer schon, for Husserl, something always a "given" that cannot be bracketed in the phenomenological reduction; for Heidegger, dasein, being there, thrown into the world; maybe jederzeit schon in Kant; for Derrida, we are always already in language)
Arche-trace, arche-writing (structures or writing existing before speech, mental images?, the text of nature - natural law?)
Blank (blanc, the phallic pen disseminates into the open white space in Mallarmé, textual silence)
Blindness (Nietzsche, looking into the sun of creative metaphor? de Man, blind to one's own original metaphors)
Breach (le frayage in ED - pathbreaking/Bahnung, entamer in G - enter into, begin)
Brisure (hinge, articulation, joining and breaking)
Closure (of metaphysics, the epistémè, reduction to a fixed meaning, immobilizing the free play of signifiers)
Creativity (Derrida's term for linguistic "productivity")
Deferral (differance, diachronic/syntagmatic/contiguous/metonym)
Delude (the false belief in fixed truths, de-played)
Differance (deferral, Derrida's neologism on Saussure's difference)
Difference (difference, in the synchronic, paradigmatic, or associative dimension - Saussurean, metaphoric/substitution)
Displacement (dislocating, decentering - Derrida uses it in connection with dissemination, thus in the chain of signifiers each term displaces the one prior, and in deconstruction, the failure to achieve aufhebung is a displacement.
in Linguistics, talk about things absent,
in Psychoanalysis = shift of emotions which makes the unimportant important)
Dissimulation
Dissemination (the infinite chain of ' signifiers in constant movement, deferral, and difference - literally seed spilling, a kind of free association of synonyms, homonyms, puns, anagrams, translations, etc. which create new openings)
Economy (of Identity and Difference, from Hegel, Freud, Heidegger)
Efface (rub out, obliterate, opposite of inscribe - aphasia?)
Forgetfulness (of Being - Nietzsche, Heidegger)
Graft (one text, e.g. Genet, inserted, woven into another, Hegel = Glas)
Grammatology (Science of Writing)
Gramme
Hymen (tissue, fabric, text, hymn?)
Identity
Innocence of Becoming
Inscription (hard stylus - inscribed, imprinted, engraved, impressed on the tomb/pyramid)
Interiorization (working from within the text/writing)
Intertextuality (the web/seams of different authors' texts, Barthes?)
Lack (that missing, so that the supplement isn't! - makes whole; usually a reference to Lacan, as castration)
Logocentric (phonocentric, phonologism, valorizing the author as originary source, a reality behind, logos as eternal, timeless, transcendental )
Margins ("I write in the margins of those (texts) who precede me," Derrida's emphasis on reversing hierarchies calls attention to the privileged voice of male heterosexual Christians, and the repression of marginalized women, homosexuals, and Jews in Western society, the holes in the whole)
Metaphysics of presence ("the history of metaphysics is the history of the determination of being as presence." G 97)
Moment
Nostalgia (for lost origins, presence)
Ontico-ontological difference - between beings and Being
Ontotheology (beings-Being, Heidegger)
Origin
Originary delay
Other
Ousia (presence, of the Godhead)
Parergon
Parousia (second coming, or re-presence, re-presentation)
Phallocentric (the patriarchal privileged view in literature and society - e.g.,Church fathers)
Pharmakon (of Plato, poison and remedy)
Phonocentric (a straw construct to be deconstructed by Derrida, the ironic Platonic privilege of Socratic speaking/voice over Platonic writing/text)
Play (ludic, illusion, collusion, prelude - Schelling, Nietzsche, Peirce)
Presence (of the speaking author, - pre-sense?, Being, es-sence)
Repetition (reproduction, rehearsal of simulacra, eternal return of the same?)
Repression (the Freudian concept extended to all things lacking in privilege in logo-phallo-phonocentrist society)
Reserve (with Investment, Expenditure, Economy)
Rupture (dissemination interrupts the aufheben of difference, preventing the reappropriation of the whole/origin)
Seme/Semen (false etymology, but second only to Differance) Signature (problematic if no author)
Signifier
Simulacrum (copy, repetition, as against an original)
Solicitation (shaking the totality?)
Sous rature (under erasure, not effaced)
Spacing (opening)
Style, stylus (phallic)
Supplement (an addition and substitution, as writing is to text, masturbation is to sex)
Text (Il n'y a pas hors de texte, as against book = closure)
Transcendental signified (Barthes: a concept that exists with no reference to any signifiers, even arche-writing or arche-trace)
Trace (Freudian concept - the physical record in the brain of an experience)
Umbrella (a fabric wrapped around, penetrated by, a stylus)
Undecidables (words with multiple meaning - polysemy, causing a simultaneous neither/nor or either/or)
Unfolding (layers of tissue, text, plex as in complex)
Violence (implicit in hierarchy, power, idealism/ideology)
Writing (always "sous rature," always already inscribed in the trace)

References [in square brackets]

Dis Dissemination
ID L'ecriture et la difference, Writing and Difference
G Of Grammatology
Pos Positions

On Dissemination
"I risk meaning nothing that can simply be heard/understood [entendu]. To be entangled in hundreds of pages of a writing simultaneously insistent and elliptical, imprinting even its erasures, carrying off each concept into an interminable chain of differences [dissemination], surrounding or confusing itself with so many precautions, references, notes, citations, collages, supplements - this "meaning to say nothing" is not, you will agree, the most assured of exercises." [Pos 14]

"differance finds itself enmeshed in the work that pulls it through a chain of other 'concepts,' other 'words,' other textual configurations. (for example, gram, reserve, incision, trace, spacing, blank - sens blanc, sang blanc, sans blanc, cent blancs, semblant - supplement, pharmakon, margin-mark-march, etc.)" [Pos 40]

"the motif, the concept, the operator of generality named dissemination inserted itself into the open chain of differance, "supplement," " pharmakon," "hymen" [Note Eden! Pos 44]

"style - a pointed object - eperon, sporo (Frankish), spor (Gaelic), spur (English), spur (German), trace" "umbrella" [Spurs 41]

"we play on the fortuitous resemblance, the purely simulated common parentage of seme and semen. There is no communication of meaning between them - yet, by collusion, accident [seemingly] produces a kind of semantic mirage." [Pos 46]

As a Derridean exercise, consider the seminal semiotic chain - semen, seme, seem, seam, same - just because semen and seme (Gr. semeion) seem the same to a French speaker, doesn't mean Derrida can sow them in the folds and seams of his differential hymen, or otherwise sew them together in his deconstructive fabric - sew, sow, so?

And what about the blinding insight of sun, seen, sin, sown, soon, son, sign - is this sane? Dissemination is simply dissimulation, if metaphor is assimilated to seminal similes and homonymous homilies. Derrida seems to be a sophisticated sophist, a Logosophist.

Is Derrida only a negative dialectician? a 20th century Sophist? a word juggler, as Kant would call him? What is... Derrida?

Derrida thinks there is something in the nature of writing (trace) that is prior to speech. Is it structure and information, which is "alwasy already" there in the universe?

Derrida uses arbitrariness of the sign (Protagoras, Cratylus), and free association (Freud?), to argue that language is creative. The text is writing itself. Many inspired authors feel they are simply taking dictation. In this regard, Derrida is a determinist who places the locus of control not in our genes, not in our experience, not in the natural law governing our physical material bodies, not in the stars or in God, - but in culture, not in culture as a whole, but in language, not even in language as a whole, but in the "Text," in the disseminating "Sign."

Derrida's commitment to time and becoming (like Hegel but contra Heidegger's Being), to deferral, tempers his determinism with an element of freedom, because he believes in the text as a causa sui, as a creative force. In an extreme version of Kenneth Burke's "Logology," Derrida seems to have crafted a master controlling trope out of Genesis. In a literal misreading of "the Word is God," he imagines the Text is God, and it is writing us.

Is this a sham? Or is Derrida (mis)reading too much into the etymology of sign - seme, namely that the ancient Greek semeion comes from the Hebrew "sem" or "shem," which means sign or name in Hebrew and signs the eponymous Shem, ancestor of all Semites. It would be a shame if this were taken for anti-semitism.

(Indo-european sem = one, e.g., same, some, handsome, sum, similar, simple, syn? as in synthesis; also Gr. heno; semi, Gr. hemi, half)

Another Derridean game might be Tel Quel (as is, so-so, lit. such what), etymologically = Telos Quelle, the Zweck and the Arche, the Purpose and the Source! Recall the Tel Quel journal editor's attack on Derrida, "a language, derived from Germany's extreme right [Heidegger], has been displaced, unknown to all, and has been introduced into the Parisian left." [Pos 103]


What is not Derrida (some sources for ideas now often confounded with Derrida's deconstruction and post-structuralism).


Absence preferable to presence (Mallarmé)
Binary oppositions - Barthes (cf. dualisms vs. dichotomies.)
Death of the author - Barthes/Mallarmé (disappearance, cf Reader-response criticism)
Displacement - when poetics became metonymic - (Jakobson);
Language as alive (Selbstbewegung) - Hegel (cf. Jones, Life of Language, evolution before biological evolution)
Language determinism - (cf. Sapir/Whorf hypothesis)
No transcendental signified, circle of signifiers - Barthes? (S/Z)
Text (myths) using us - Levi-Strauss
Playing with words - Plato/Cratylus, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger
Reversing hierarchies, e.g. cause/effect, - Nietzsche (Twilight)

Cambridge, April 14, 1988 Robert 0. Doyle 617-876-5678
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