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Derrida and Hegel
Différance and Difference are more similar than thought
Vive la Différance-Difference~!
5th Derrida Today World Conference
Washington DC 14 Jun 2022
Slides: http://slideshare.net/LaBlogga
Melanie Swan, PhD
University College London
14 Jun 2022
Derrida and Hegel
Derrida’s main works re: différance
 Margins of Philosophy (1982 [1972])
 Différance (27 January 1968) (chapter 1, pp. 3-27)
 The Pit and the Pyramid: Introduction to Hegel’s Semiology
(16 January 1968) (chapter 4, pp. 69-108)
 Of Grammatology (1997 [1967])
 Linguistics and Grammatology (chapter 2 , pp. 27-73)
 Writing and Difference (1973 [1967])
 From Restricted to General Economy: A Hegelianism without
Reserve (chapter 9, pp. 251-277)
 Cogito and the History of Madness (chapter 2, pp. 31-63)
 Freud and the Scene of Writing (chapter 7, pp. 196-231)
1
Note: Derrida first uses the term différance in “Cogito et histoire de la folie” (1963) regarding Foucault
“The economy of this writing is a regulated relationship between that which exceeds and the exceeded totality: the différance of the
absolute excess” (Cogito and the History of Madness, Writing and Difference, pp. 31-63, p. 62)
14 Jun 2022
Derrida and Hegel
Difference and Identity
2
Situating Difference and Identity: Three Eras of Difference
 Difference (generic): a process or set of properties by
which one entity can be distinguished from another
Early Modern
(Leibniz, Hume)
German Idealism
(Kant, Hegel)
French Philosophies of Difference
(Derrida, Deleuze)
Emphasis on identity Emphasis on joint status or unity of identity
and difference
Emphasis on the lack of a fixed identity
Leibniz: small difference = identity
(law of the identity of indiscernibles)
Kant: can only know the representation of an
object, not the thing in itself
Derrida: any “text” (a person, situation, work of
literature) is constantly open to re-reading and re-
signification, différance resists fixity
Hume: correspondence theory of
truth (correspondence between
appearance and reality)
Hegel: Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis dialectics
(identity as the sublational unity of difference)
Deleuze: difference is ontologically free-standing,
not opposed to identity
14 Jun 2022
Derrida and Hegel
Derrida contra Hegel
 Key advances by Derrida re: différance, deconstruction, the
grammatology project (developing a science of writing), the theory of
signs, the trace, the general economy of excess, and the opposition
to the metaphysics of presence (privileging presence over absence)
3
Derrida’s Advances contra Hegel
Problem Solution Result Reference
1a. Hegelian Dialectics
Step 2: Antithesis
(Negativity)
General economy of
excess instead of restricted
economy (Bataille)
Overcome zero-sum economy
Oppose Metaphysics of
Presence
From Restricted to
General Economy,
pp. 251-277
1b. Hegelian Dialectics
Step 3: Aufhebung
(Sublation)
Relève Replace suppressive
conservation with generative
différance
The Pit and the
Pyramid, pp. 69-
108
2. Singularity-to-universality
totalization
Invert with singularity-to-
universality and excess
Safeguard non-totalized
singularity of meaning
Glas, pp. 142-143
(Antigone)
3. Privileging speech over
writing
Différance Facilitate dynamic
assemblages of meaning
Différance, p. 8
4. Binary opposition of
sensibility-understanding
(Kant)
Differ()nce Oppose Metaphysics of
Presence
Différence, p. 5
14 Jun 2022
Derrida and Hegel
Différance
 Différance is the difference and deferral of meaning
 Différance “compensates economically” for the “loss of
meaning” in the words of difference and defer (p. 8)
 Irreducibly polysemic, refers to configuration of meanings (p. 8)
 Différance is “the movement according to which any
language, code, or system of referral” is given meaning
(p. 12)
 “The concept of play [is] beyond the opposition” (p. 7)
 Différance is the “passage from one term of an
opposition to the other”
 Deconstructive implication to “reconsider all the pairs of
opposites on which philosophy is constructed” (p. 17)
4
Source: Différance essay (paraphrase)
14 Jun 2022
Derrida and Hegel
Derrida contra Kant
 Key advances by Derrida re: différance, deconstruction, the
grammatology project (developing a science of writing), the theory of
signs, the trace, the general economy of excess, and the opposition
to the metaphysics of presence (privileging presence over absence)
5
Derrida’s Advances contra Hegel
Problem Solution Result Reference
1a. Hegelian Dialectics
Step 2: Antithesis
(Negativity)
General economy of
excess instead of restricted
economy (Bataille)
Overcome zero-sum economy
Oppose Metaphysics of
Presence
From Restricted to
General Economy,
pp. 251-277
1b. Hegelian Dialectics
Step 3: Aufhebung
(Sublation)
Relève Replace suppressive
conservation with generative
différance
The Pit and the
Pyramid, pp. 69-
108
2. Singularity-to-universality
totalization
Invert with singularity-to-
universality and excess
Safeguard non-totalized
singularity of meaning
Glas, pp. 142-143
(Antigone)
3. Privileging speech over
writing
Différance Facilitate dynamic
assemblages of meaning
Différance, p. 8
4. Binary opposition of
sensibility-understanding
(Kant)
Differ()nce Oppose Metaphysics of
Presence
Différence, p. 5
14 Jun 2022
Derrida and Hegel
Other thinkers and différance
 Hegel
 “differentiating relation” in an active sense which could easily
be translated as différance (p. 14)
 Heidegger, Nietzsche, Freud
 “différance appears almost by name” in their texts (p. 17)
 Freud’s unconscious: “exempt from” presentation (p. 20)
 Saussure
 “in language there are only differences” (p. 10)
 The signifier and signified (p. 10)
 The signified is the concept (ideal meaning)
 The signifier is the “acoustical phenomenon” (label)
6
Source: Différance essay (paraphrase)
14 Jun 2022
Derrida and Hegel
Other thinkers and différance: Heidegger
 “The sign is put in the place of the thing itself” (D, pp. 9-10)
 Questions the “authority of presence” by substituting absence
 Heidegger “runs out of breath” end of Being and Time
 Stuck in “metaphysical conceptuality” (H, p. 204)
 Sees Heidegger acknowledging the “necessity…of continuing
to dwell in metaphysical inauthenticity” (H, p. 160)
 Derrida moves beyond Heidegger
 The temporality of the sign is one of non-presence (D, p. 13)
 The “movement of signification is only possible if each element” is
connected by the “trace” that is related to the future and the past
 Interval “becoming-space of time, becoming-time of space”
 Archi-writing, archi-trace, or différance (D, p. 13)
7
Sources: D = Différance essay (paraphrase); H = Heidegger: The Question of Being and History (2016)
14 Jun 2022
Derrida and Hegel
The Pyramid
 Derrida: différance and the sign
1. “A” in différance as pyramid, capital letter
2. The pyramid is the sign
3. The pyramid is the tomb
 Calls burial, the sacred, societal roles and laws,
home economy, general economy of excess
 The Pit and the Pyramid: Introduction to
Hegel’s Semiology
 Pit = un-signified possibility
 Pyramid = sign
8
Egyptian Pyramid
14 Jun 2022
Derrida and Hegel
Glas (Clang) 1974
 Embodiment of the
grammatology project
 Questions form,
content, genre of writing
9
Left : Hegel’s philosophical
texts and correspondence
Right column: Jean Genet’s
autobiographical work
Two columns, different type, interspersed with marginalia
14 Jun 2022
Derrida and Hegel
Derrida contra Hegel
 Key advances by Derrida re: différance, deconstruction, the
grammatology project (developing a science of writing), the theory of
signs, the trace, the general economy of excess, and the opposition
to the metaphysics of presence (privileging presence over absence)
10
Derrida’s Advances contra Hegel
Problem Solution Result Reference
1a. Hegelian Dialectics
Step 2: Antithesis
(Negativity)
General economy of
excess instead of restricted
economy (Bataille)
Overcome zero-sum economy
Oppose Metaphysics of
Presence
From Restricted to
General Economy,
pp. 251-277
1b. Hegelian Dialectics
Step 3: Aufhebung
(Sublation)
Relève Replace suppressive
conservation with generative
différance
The Pit and the
Pyramid, pp. 69-
108
2. Singularity-to-universality
totalization
Invert with singularity-to-
universality and excess
Safeguard non-totalized
singularity of meaning
Glas, pp. 142-143
(Antigone)
3. Privileging speech over
writing
Différance Facilitate dynamic
assemblages of meaning
Différance, p. 8
4. Binary opposition of
sensibility-understanding
(Kant)
Differ()nce Oppose Metaphysics of
Presence
Différence, p. 5
14 Jun 2022
Derrida and Hegel
Hegel’s formulation of difference
 Self-attracting, self-differing, self-overcoming
 Moments of “self-sundering and of becoming self-identical”
operate in the overall “movement of self-supersession” (§162)
 “Think pure change [as] antithesis within the antithesis”
 “not merely one of two” (§160); departure to a larger position
11
Source Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, (1977 [1807]). Trans. Miller.
Hegel’s Theory of Difference
Section Elaboration of inner difference
Specification of inner difference
§160 Self-attracting and self-repulsing; itself and its opposite (other) as a unity
Dialectical operation of inner difference
§161 Self-identicality and self-differing; self-same and self-differing as a unity
§162 Self-sundering (self-negating, self-differing) and self-identifying in self-supersession
Inner difference unifies external difference
§163 Consciousness as Understanding operates the dialectic of inner difference to unify Humean
diversity and explain appearances, consciousness is “self-satisfied” with the result
§§164-165 Consciousness as Understanding is using the tools of inner difference but fails to realize
that they apply to itself too (its own growth and unification); when it realizes this, the shape
of consciousness ascends from Understanding to Self-Consciousness
14 Jun 2022
Derrida and Hegel
Conclusion: Derrida and Hegel
 Consider two moments of Derrida-Hegel relationship
 Différance-Difference: similar formulations of movement
 Glas: valid complaint of excess of singularity over universality
12
Derrida’s Advances contra Hegel
Problem Solution Result Reference
1a. Hegelian Dialectics
Step 2: Antithesis
(Negativity)
General economy of
excess instead of restricted
economy (Bataille)
Overcome zero-sum economy
Oppose Metaphysics of
Presence
From Restricted to
General Economy,
pp. 251-277
1b. Hegelian Dialectics
Step 3: Aufhebung
(Sublation)
Relève Replace suppressive
conservation with generative
différance
The Pit and the
Pyramid, pp. 69-
108
2. Singularity-to-universality
totalization
Invert with singularity-to-
universality and excess
Safeguard non-totalized
singularity of meaning
Glas, pp. 142-143
(Antigone)
3. Privileging speech over
writing
Différance Facilitate dynamic
assemblages of meaning
Différance, p. 8
4. Binary opposition of
sensibility-understanding
(Kant)
Differ()nce Oppose Metaphysics of
Presence
Différence, p. 5
5th Derrida Today World Conference
Washington DC 14 Jun 2022
Slides: http://slideshare.net/LaBlogga
Melanie Swan, PhD
University College London
Thank you!
Questions?
Derrida and Hegel
Différance and Difference are more similar than thought
Vive la Différance-Difference~!
14 Jun 2022
Derrida and Hegel
Hegel and the Egyptian Pyramid
 Theory of Art
 Hierarchy of arts demonstrating ability to press individual and
collective self-conceptualization into form
1. Architecture (Egyptian pyramids)
2. Sculpture (Roman)
3. Romantic arts (painting, music, poetry (apex: Shakespeare))
14
Source: Hegel, Lectures on Fine Art, Vol. 1 and 2
Egyptian Pyramid

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Derrida-Hegel: Différance-Difference

  • 1. Derrida and Hegel Différance and Difference are more similar than thought Vive la Différance-Difference~! 5th Derrida Today World Conference Washington DC 14 Jun 2022 Slides: http://slideshare.net/LaBlogga Melanie Swan, PhD University College London
  • 2. 14 Jun 2022 Derrida and Hegel Derrida’s main works re: différance  Margins of Philosophy (1982 [1972])  Différance (27 January 1968) (chapter 1, pp. 3-27)  The Pit and the Pyramid: Introduction to Hegel’s Semiology (16 January 1968) (chapter 4, pp. 69-108)  Of Grammatology (1997 [1967])  Linguistics and Grammatology (chapter 2 , pp. 27-73)  Writing and Difference (1973 [1967])  From Restricted to General Economy: A Hegelianism without Reserve (chapter 9, pp. 251-277)  Cogito and the History of Madness (chapter 2, pp. 31-63)  Freud and the Scene of Writing (chapter 7, pp. 196-231) 1 Note: Derrida first uses the term différance in “Cogito et histoire de la folie” (1963) regarding Foucault “The economy of this writing is a regulated relationship between that which exceeds and the exceeded totality: the différance of the absolute excess” (Cogito and the History of Madness, Writing and Difference, pp. 31-63, p. 62)
  • 3. 14 Jun 2022 Derrida and Hegel Difference and Identity 2 Situating Difference and Identity: Three Eras of Difference  Difference (generic): a process or set of properties by which one entity can be distinguished from another Early Modern (Leibniz, Hume) German Idealism (Kant, Hegel) French Philosophies of Difference (Derrida, Deleuze) Emphasis on identity Emphasis on joint status or unity of identity and difference Emphasis on the lack of a fixed identity Leibniz: small difference = identity (law of the identity of indiscernibles) Kant: can only know the representation of an object, not the thing in itself Derrida: any “text” (a person, situation, work of literature) is constantly open to re-reading and re- signification, différance resists fixity Hume: correspondence theory of truth (correspondence between appearance and reality) Hegel: Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis dialectics (identity as the sublational unity of difference) Deleuze: difference is ontologically free-standing, not opposed to identity
  • 4. 14 Jun 2022 Derrida and Hegel Derrida contra Hegel  Key advances by Derrida re: différance, deconstruction, the grammatology project (developing a science of writing), the theory of signs, the trace, the general economy of excess, and the opposition to the metaphysics of presence (privileging presence over absence) 3 Derrida’s Advances contra Hegel Problem Solution Result Reference 1a. Hegelian Dialectics Step 2: Antithesis (Negativity) General economy of excess instead of restricted economy (Bataille) Overcome zero-sum economy Oppose Metaphysics of Presence From Restricted to General Economy, pp. 251-277 1b. Hegelian Dialectics Step 3: Aufhebung (Sublation) Relève Replace suppressive conservation with generative différance The Pit and the Pyramid, pp. 69- 108 2. Singularity-to-universality totalization Invert with singularity-to- universality and excess Safeguard non-totalized singularity of meaning Glas, pp. 142-143 (Antigone) 3. Privileging speech over writing Différance Facilitate dynamic assemblages of meaning Différance, p. 8 4. Binary opposition of sensibility-understanding (Kant) Differ()nce Oppose Metaphysics of Presence Différence, p. 5
  • 5. 14 Jun 2022 Derrida and Hegel Différance  Différance is the difference and deferral of meaning  Différance “compensates economically” for the “loss of meaning” in the words of difference and defer (p. 8)  Irreducibly polysemic, refers to configuration of meanings (p. 8)  Différance is “the movement according to which any language, code, or system of referral” is given meaning (p. 12)  “The concept of play [is] beyond the opposition” (p. 7)  Différance is the “passage from one term of an opposition to the other”  Deconstructive implication to “reconsider all the pairs of opposites on which philosophy is constructed” (p. 17) 4 Source: Différance essay (paraphrase)
  • 6. 14 Jun 2022 Derrida and Hegel Derrida contra Kant  Key advances by Derrida re: différance, deconstruction, the grammatology project (developing a science of writing), the theory of signs, the trace, the general economy of excess, and the opposition to the metaphysics of presence (privileging presence over absence) 5 Derrida’s Advances contra Hegel Problem Solution Result Reference 1a. Hegelian Dialectics Step 2: Antithesis (Negativity) General economy of excess instead of restricted economy (Bataille) Overcome zero-sum economy Oppose Metaphysics of Presence From Restricted to General Economy, pp. 251-277 1b. Hegelian Dialectics Step 3: Aufhebung (Sublation) Relève Replace suppressive conservation with generative différance The Pit and the Pyramid, pp. 69- 108 2. Singularity-to-universality totalization Invert with singularity-to- universality and excess Safeguard non-totalized singularity of meaning Glas, pp. 142-143 (Antigone) 3. Privileging speech over writing Différance Facilitate dynamic assemblages of meaning Différance, p. 8 4. Binary opposition of sensibility-understanding (Kant) Differ()nce Oppose Metaphysics of Presence Différence, p. 5
  • 7. 14 Jun 2022 Derrida and Hegel Other thinkers and différance  Hegel  “differentiating relation” in an active sense which could easily be translated as différance (p. 14)  Heidegger, Nietzsche, Freud  “différance appears almost by name” in their texts (p. 17)  Freud’s unconscious: “exempt from” presentation (p. 20)  Saussure  “in language there are only differences” (p. 10)  The signifier and signified (p. 10)  The signified is the concept (ideal meaning)  The signifier is the “acoustical phenomenon” (label) 6 Source: Différance essay (paraphrase)
  • 8. 14 Jun 2022 Derrida and Hegel Other thinkers and différance: Heidegger  “The sign is put in the place of the thing itself” (D, pp. 9-10)  Questions the “authority of presence” by substituting absence  Heidegger “runs out of breath” end of Being and Time  Stuck in “metaphysical conceptuality” (H, p. 204)  Sees Heidegger acknowledging the “necessity…of continuing to dwell in metaphysical inauthenticity” (H, p. 160)  Derrida moves beyond Heidegger  The temporality of the sign is one of non-presence (D, p. 13)  The “movement of signification is only possible if each element” is connected by the “trace” that is related to the future and the past  Interval “becoming-space of time, becoming-time of space”  Archi-writing, archi-trace, or différance (D, p. 13) 7 Sources: D = Différance essay (paraphrase); H = Heidegger: The Question of Being and History (2016)
  • 9. 14 Jun 2022 Derrida and Hegel The Pyramid  Derrida: différance and the sign 1. “A” in différance as pyramid, capital letter 2. The pyramid is the sign 3. The pyramid is the tomb  Calls burial, the sacred, societal roles and laws, home economy, general economy of excess  The Pit and the Pyramid: Introduction to Hegel’s Semiology  Pit = un-signified possibility  Pyramid = sign 8 Egyptian Pyramid
  • 10. 14 Jun 2022 Derrida and Hegel Glas (Clang) 1974  Embodiment of the grammatology project  Questions form, content, genre of writing 9 Left : Hegel’s philosophical texts and correspondence Right column: Jean Genet’s autobiographical work Two columns, different type, interspersed with marginalia
  • 11. 14 Jun 2022 Derrida and Hegel Derrida contra Hegel  Key advances by Derrida re: différance, deconstruction, the grammatology project (developing a science of writing), the theory of signs, the trace, the general economy of excess, and the opposition to the metaphysics of presence (privileging presence over absence) 10 Derrida’s Advances contra Hegel Problem Solution Result Reference 1a. Hegelian Dialectics Step 2: Antithesis (Negativity) General economy of excess instead of restricted economy (Bataille) Overcome zero-sum economy Oppose Metaphysics of Presence From Restricted to General Economy, pp. 251-277 1b. Hegelian Dialectics Step 3: Aufhebung (Sublation) Relève Replace suppressive conservation with generative différance The Pit and the Pyramid, pp. 69- 108 2. Singularity-to-universality totalization Invert with singularity-to- universality and excess Safeguard non-totalized singularity of meaning Glas, pp. 142-143 (Antigone) 3. Privileging speech over writing Différance Facilitate dynamic assemblages of meaning Différance, p. 8 4. Binary opposition of sensibility-understanding (Kant) Differ()nce Oppose Metaphysics of Presence Différence, p. 5
  • 12. 14 Jun 2022 Derrida and Hegel Hegel’s formulation of difference  Self-attracting, self-differing, self-overcoming  Moments of “self-sundering and of becoming self-identical” operate in the overall “movement of self-supersession” (§162)  “Think pure change [as] antithesis within the antithesis”  “not merely one of two” (§160); departure to a larger position 11 Source Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, (1977 [1807]). Trans. Miller. Hegel’s Theory of Difference Section Elaboration of inner difference Specification of inner difference §160 Self-attracting and self-repulsing; itself and its opposite (other) as a unity Dialectical operation of inner difference §161 Self-identicality and self-differing; self-same and self-differing as a unity §162 Self-sundering (self-negating, self-differing) and self-identifying in self-supersession Inner difference unifies external difference §163 Consciousness as Understanding operates the dialectic of inner difference to unify Humean diversity and explain appearances, consciousness is “self-satisfied” with the result §§164-165 Consciousness as Understanding is using the tools of inner difference but fails to realize that they apply to itself too (its own growth and unification); when it realizes this, the shape of consciousness ascends from Understanding to Self-Consciousness
  • 13. 14 Jun 2022 Derrida and Hegel Conclusion: Derrida and Hegel  Consider two moments of Derrida-Hegel relationship  Différance-Difference: similar formulations of movement  Glas: valid complaint of excess of singularity over universality 12 Derrida’s Advances contra Hegel Problem Solution Result Reference 1a. Hegelian Dialectics Step 2: Antithesis (Negativity) General economy of excess instead of restricted economy (Bataille) Overcome zero-sum economy Oppose Metaphysics of Presence From Restricted to General Economy, pp. 251-277 1b. Hegelian Dialectics Step 3: Aufhebung (Sublation) Relève Replace suppressive conservation with generative différance The Pit and the Pyramid, pp. 69- 108 2. Singularity-to-universality totalization Invert with singularity-to- universality and excess Safeguard non-totalized singularity of meaning Glas, pp. 142-143 (Antigone) 3. Privileging speech over writing Différance Facilitate dynamic assemblages of meaning Différance, p. 8 4. Binary opposition of sensibility-understanding (Kant) Differ()nce Oppose Metaphysics of Presence Différence, p. 5
  • 14. 5th Derrida Today World Conference Washington DC 14 Jun 2022 Slides: http://slideshare.net/LaBlogga Melanie Swan, PhD University College London Thank you! Questions? Derrida and Hegel Différance and Difference are more similar than thought Vive la Différance-Difference~!
  • 15. 14 Jun 2022 Derrida and Hegel Hegel and the Egyptian Pyramid  Theory of Art  Hierarchy of arts demonstrating ability to press individual and collective self-conceptualization into form 1. Architecture (Egyptian pyramids) 2. Sculpture (Roman) 3. Romantic arts (painting, music, poetry (apex: Shakespeare)) 14 Source: Hegel, Lectures on Fine Art, Vol. 1 and 2 Egyptian Pyramid