Ong and Derrida on presence: A case study in the conflict of traditions

Educational Philosophy and Theory 40 (7):856-872 (2008)
Ong and Derrida are concerned with presence—for Ong the presence of the other; for Derrida the presence of the signified. These seemingly disparate epistemological meanings of 'presence' actually share some striking similarities, but differ about how reason should be figured, that is, what metaphors should be used to conceptualize reason. This disagreement is fundamentally about what Ong called 'analogues for intellect.' After describing the history of Ong's and Derrida's concept of presence, we indicate how the ethical and religious implications Ong and Derrida draw from 'presence' proceed logically from the analogues for intellect that each assumes. We will conclude, first, that these implications reveal a conflict of traditions—philosophy and rhetoric—but we also indicate how Ong's own rhetoric may permit dialogue between traditions.
Keywords deconstruction  philosophy  orality  Derrida  metaphor  Ong  Jesuits  rhetoric
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