Deconstruction, Science, and the Logic of Enquiry

Derrida Today 3 (2):178-200 (2010)
In this essay I set out to place Derrida's work – especially his earlier (pre-1980) books and essays – in the context of related or contrasting developments in analytic philosophy of science over the past half-century. Along the way I challenge the various misconceptions that have grown up around that work, not only amongst its routine detractors in the analytic camp but also amongst some of its less philosophically informed disciples. In particular I focus on the interlinked issues of realism versus anti-realism and the scope and limits of classical (bivalent) logic, both of which receive a detailed, rigorous and sustained treatment in his deconstructive readings of Husserl, Austin and others. Contrary to Derrida's reputation as a exponent of anti-realism in its far-gone ‘textualist’ form and as one who merely plays perverse though ingenious games with logic I show that those readings presuppose both a basically realist conception of their subject-matter and a strong commitment to the protocols of bivalent logic. These he applies with the utmost care and precision right up to the point – unreachable except by way of that procedure – where they encounter certain problems or anomalies that cannot be resolved except by switching to a different (non-bivalent, deviant, paraconsistent, ‘supplementary’, or ‘parergonal’) logic. Philosophy of science in the analytic mainstream might benefit greatly from a closer acquaintance with Derrida's thinking on these topics, as it might from a knowledge of his likewise rigorous thinking-through of the antinomy between structure and genesis as it bears upon issues in the history of scientific thought.
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DOI 10.3366/drt.2010.0203
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Jacques Derrida (1998). Of Grammatology. Johns Hopkins University Press.

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