Academic journal article Journal of Literary Studies

Looking for a Logic in Derrida: Assessing Hurst's "Plural Logic of the Aporia"

Academic journal article Journal of Literary Studies

Looking for a Logic in Derrida: Assessing Hurst's "Plural Logic of the Aporia"

Article excerpt


Derrida was increasingly overt in later years that he employed a kind of "logic", in which the classical tools of reasoning have their place. This article thus enquires into whether Derrida can be approached logically--to seek this logic--through the foil of Andrea Hurst's (1) work. Hurst suggests Derrida proceeds via one "plural logic", arising from the nonpresence of any concept, contamination and refusal of choice from binary options. These interact to arrive at aporia. Derrida's system thus works via one "internal/external" binary which proceeds in constructive and destructive moments. However, this article suggests that despite arguing for consistency, Hurst elides contradiction as a tool, thus cannot distinguish error from aporia. A critical criterion which utilises noncontradiction is developed, which suggests some ways by which seeking Derrida's logic could proceed, then points to the importance of suspension of logic in Derrida's work. The immediate practical application is to the question of whether Derrida is politically relevant, and it is hoped the outcome will justify the use of this method in reading Derrida.


Derrida was in sy later jare toenemend openlik dat hy 'n tipe "logika" waarin die klassieke redenasiemiddele tot hul reg kom, beoefen het. Hierdie artikel stel dus die vraag of Derrida Iogies benader kan word, en poog om toegang tot hierdie logika te bekom deur middel van die teenstelling wat Andrea Hurst se werk bled, Hurst gee aan die hand dat Derrida 'n "plurale Iogika" volg wat spruit uit die nieteenwoordigheid van enige konsep of kontaminasie en die weiering om uit binere opsies te kies. Hierdie dinge tree in wisselwerking met mekaar en lei sodoende tot filosofiese twyfel of aporia. Derrida se stelsel werk dus via binere opposisie, naamlik intern/ekstern, wat in konstruktiewe en destruktiewe momente aangeroer word. Die artikel gee egter aan die hand dat, hoewel Hurst ten gunste van konsekwentheid betoog, sy teenstelling as 'n werktuig weglaat, en dus nie tussen mistasting en aporia kan onderskei nie. 'n Kritiese maatstaf wat nieteenstrydigheid benut, word ontwikkel. Dit dui op enkele maniere waarvolgens die soeke na Derrida se Iogika kan voortgaan, en wys dan op die belangrikheid van die opskorting van Iogika in Derrida se werk. Die onmiddellike praktiese toepassing is op die vraag of Derrida polities relevant is, en daar word gehoop dat die uitkoms van die artikel die gebruik van hierdie metode in die lees van Derrida sal regverdig.


The first contributions in the debate as to whether Derrida's work is systematic probably emerged in 1986--Gasche is the most well-known proponent, and one could add Harvey and Llewellyn. (2) However, if such systematisation then seemed risky, in the 1990s Derrida went even further, pointing across fifteen of his works and stating that "[a] plural logic of the aporia thus takes shape" (D 1993: 20). (3) His works were peppered with references to "logic", and insistence that he is

very attentive to the difference of ... logic, of rhetoric, protocols and argumentation.

(D 1996b: 79)

But even now, at the close of this decade, to our knowledge, a "logic" of this scale remains to be put forward. Assuming that Derrida is not lying and that there is a "plural logic"--let us define this simply as a systematic arrangement of thought which can be regular, and predictive (4)--this seems to be an attractive task. Andrea Hurst's system is a recent beginning, and this article thus begins here. Hurst claims that

a formalisable logic repeats its play in every Derridean text (H 2008b: 76; my italics)

and that this has been found, rigorously.

This article would prefer not to conclude this. It is easy to note, from an outside perspective, that Hurst's work samples only a few texts. In Aporias, though Derrida points to fifteen works where the "plural logic" takes shape (D 1993a: 13-16), twelve are not included in Hurst's reasoning, which the reader may follow in this footnote. …

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