Of violence: The force and significance of violence in the early Derrida

Philosophy and Social Criticism 35 (3):269-286 (2009)


This article queries the sense of `violence' in Derrida's early work, especially Of Grammatology. After a thorough reading of Derrida's analyses, and an inspection of his own moral and political rhetoric interspersed through his writing on writing, I offer a criticism of Derrida's treatment of violence. Derrida figures socio-political or `empirical' violence as conditioned by the more basic play of the trace; the `transcendental' violence of inscription and law. This move brings him within a hair's-breadth of affirming a violence more mythic than transcendental; or mythic because transcendental and ostensibly `necessary'

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