Tropes of Orientation: Between Dialectic and Deconstruction

Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University (1988)
Cynthia Willett
Emory University
The dissertation seeks to locate a post-Hegelian response to the question of orientation. Such a response would neither return to the "totalizing drive" of dialectic nor yield to the "nihilistic gestures" of deconstruction but would traverse and transfigure both modes of thought. Part 1 isolates non-dialectical tropes which implicitly orient crucial transitions in Hegel's Logic, Phenomenology, and Aesthetics. Textual analyses of these tropes suggest that dialectical movement depends paradoxically upon the systematic undoing of the Hegelian demand for total knowledge. Part 2 finds that the same orienting tropes reappear in texts of Derrida's where they now work against the paralyzing effects of deconstruction. These tropic movements prefigure a deconstructive notion of orientation which would exceed the inversions of undecidability
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