The Trespass of the Sign: Deconstruction, Theology, and Philosophy

By Kevin Hart | Go to book overview

6
The economy of mysticism

Introduction

Let us recollect the argument. It has two related stages, one negative and one positive. In the first place, I have argued against what I have called the 'common view' of deconstruction in which Derrida's programme is framed as a straightforward affirmation of groundlessness and hence as anti-theological. This 'common view' is in fact a family of views; but we may take a remark by Eugene Goodheart to be characteristic: 'Epistemologically, deconstructive skepticism is opposed to logocentric knowledge; theologically, to belief or faith.'1 Upon my reading, this is mistaken on several counts. (1) Deconstruction is not a collection of first-order positions about knowledge or being but a second-order discourse on epistemology and ontology, one that traces the effects of their will to totalise. Since it deals with particular texts, deconstruction finds its starting-point in material situations - texts and institutions; but its vantage point is the gap between materiality and phenomenality. Unlike Pyrrho, Derrida does not hold the sceptical view that we cannot prefer one position to another because every argument for a position is balanced by an equally persuasive argument against it. Derrida's position is closer to (though not identical with) GÖdel's: any metaphysical reading of a text will generate at least one element which cannot be decided within metaphysics. So Derrida does not advocate scepticism - it is not even a considered position for him. (2) Deconstruction is not opposed to logocentrism; indeed, it is the will to totalise in the Hegelian and structuralist notions of 'opposition' which Derrida seeks to convict. Far from opposing philosophy, deconstruction is an originary supplement to phil-

1 Goodheart, The skeptic disposition in contemporary criticism, p. 10.

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The Trespass of the Sign: Deconstruction, Theology, and Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction to the 2000 Edition ix
  • Preface xxxiii
  • I - Confrontation 1
  • 1: Interpretation, Signs and God 3
  • 2: Deconstruction Otherwise 40
  • 3: Metaphysics and Theology 71
  • II - Examination 105
  • 4: The Status of Deconstruction 107
  • 5: Questions of Scope 138
  • III - Dialogue 171
  • 6: The Economy of Mysticism 173
  • 7: Kant: Mysticism and Parerga 207
  • 8: Heidegger 237
  • Appendix to: The 2000 Edition 271
  • The God Effect 273
  • Bibliography 299
  • Index of People 313
  • Index of Topics 317
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