[Book review] matrix and line, Derrida and the possibilities of postmodern social theory [Book Review]

Social Theory and Practice 19:93-109 (1993)
Abstract
Matrix and line develops a social theory using the work of Jacques Derrida as its philosophical basis. In particular, notions of differance, writing, textuality, margin, dissemination, gramme, and others are integrated into the project of formulating a new language of politics. At the same time, the study is focused on the politics in/of language. ;The question of language is at the heart of this study. In the central chapter I argue that, although Habermas is correct to orient social theory toward language, his approach to language is, in my view, not correct. In formulating the alternative, Heidegger, and from analytic philosophy, Donald Davidson, are important contributors in addition to Derrida. ;There are a number of other important engagements in the dissertation, most prominently with Marxist thinkers. However, the study remains focused on what can be developed within the Derridean framework, instead of developing a general response to Marxism. ;The theory addresses postmodern society and culture and is, in that sense, "postmodern." However, postmodernity is theorized as an historical impasse, in which the link between history and memory is severed. Memory is progressively devalued and destroyed. This devaluation is the result of a secularism at the end of its tether. A writerly, participatory approach to society becomes nearly impossible in this context. The notion of "postsecularism" is counterposed to this postmodern hyper-secularism. The prime concern is to develop a new sense of community, one that textually recovers some of the presecular community values , and some of the key achievements of the Enlightenment, and some of the new possibilities that have been generated by the crisis of modernity
Keywords Derrida, Jacques   Postmodernism   Social sciences
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ISBN(s) 0791410498
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