Logics of Generalization: Derrida, Grammatology and Transdisciplinarity

Theory, Culture and Society 32 (5-6):79-107 (2015)
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Abstract

This article seeks to explore some issues regarding the different modes of generality at stake in the formation of transdisciplinary concepts within the production of ‘theory’ in the humanities and social sciences. Focused around Jacques Derrida’s seminal account of ‘writing’ in his 1967 book Of Grammatology, the article outlines what it defines as a logic of generalization at stake in Derrida’s elaborations of a quasi-transcendental ‘inscription in general’. Starting out from the questions thereby raised about the relationship between such forms of generality and those historically ascribed to philosophy, the article concludes by contrasting Derrida’s generalized writing with more recent returns to ‘metaphysics’ in the work of Bruno Latour and others. Against the immediately ‘ontological’ orientation of much recent ‘new materialist’ or ‘object-oriented’ thought, the article argues for the necessity of ‘different levels of writing in general’ through a continual folding back of absolute generalization into historically specific disciplinary crossings and exchanges; something suggested by but never really developed in Derrida’s own work.

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