Dissertation, University of Edinburgh (1997)

This thesis examines the nature of the supplementary relationship between Husserlian phenomenology and deconstruction. Chapter 1 gives an account of the strategies and aims of deconstruction, determining these to be an attempt to respond, using ‘other names’, to the other which is excluded by phenomenology/philosophy in its attempts to master its own limits. In Chapter 2, it is found that alterity is encountered by phenomenology on its own thresholds, informing the genetic turn in phenomenology which is necessitated as a result of the inquiries into the temporal constitution which founds the possibility of an object’s being given as such to consciousness. Furthermore, it is shown how the possibility of the genetic turn resides in the indication relation examined in the phenomenology of signification. Chapter 3 focusses on the deconstruction of phenomenology, and investigates the double movement in phenomenology which the deconstruction reveals, taking time and language as guiding threads. On the one hand, the genetic turn appears to reveal a founding alterity, which, on the other hand, phenomenology strives to suppress in accordance with its adherence to its own ‘principle of principles’. It is argued that the deconstruction aims to accord phenomenological respect to the alterity uncovered by phenomenological descriptions. This is done through thematising certain operative concepts, concepts which remain unthemtised in phenomenology precisely because such thematisation would reveal a founding non-presence intolerable to phenomenology. Deconstruction supplements phenomenology to the extent that it attempts to name, on the fissured margins of phenomenology, the radical alterity uncovered by phenomenology in a way which does not reduce the very otherness of the alterity. However, in the final Chapter, it is argued, from the perspective of Levinas, that Derrida does not in fact manage to find a sense for founding alterity in phenomenology which is ‘beyond metaphysics’. The thesis concludes by arguing that, in order to achieve its strategic aims, as detailed in Chapter 1, the deconstruction of phenomenology needs to be ethically supplemenred, one example of such an ethically supplemented deconstructive reading of Husserl being found in some of the most recent texts of Levinas.
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