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Home Thoughts from Abroad: Derrida, Austin and the Oxford Connection

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Abstract

There is no philosophical school or tradition that doesn’t carry along with it a background narrative linking up present and past concerns. Most often this selective prehistory entails not only an approving account of ideas that fit in with the current picture but also an effort to repress or marginalise anything that does not so fit. Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy is one fairly blatant example of this strategy at work.1 The story it tells is a Whiggish account of how thinkers managed — against all the odds of metaphysical delusion — to come out at last (with Russell and his peers) on the high plateau of logical consistency and truth. On the way to this dénouement Russell avails himself of various techniques for pointing up the narrative drift. His coverage takes in all the accredited ‘major’ thinkers, some of whose opinions Russell is hard put to summarise without remarking how nonsensical they appear from a modern (logical) point of view. Elsewhere — as with Leibniz or Kant — he takes the more accomodating line of winnowing out the structures of valid argument and consigning what remains to the history of dead metaphysical abstractions. It is this latter technique that has characterised the approach of analytical philosophers to the history of their discipline.

Keywords

Ordinary Language Textual Critique Performative Utterance Bodleian Library Western Metaphysic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy (London: Allen and Unwin, 1954).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See for instance P. F. Strawson, Individuals (London: Methuen, 1963).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Jacques Bouveresse, ‘Why I am so very UnFrench’, in Alan Montefiore (ed.), Philosophy in France Today (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983) pp. 9–33 (quotation from p. 24).Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    See Richard Rorty, ‘Keeping Philosophy Pure’ and ‘Professionalized Philosophy’, in Consequences of Pragmatism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982) pp. 19–36 and 60–71.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    See, for instance, A. J. Ayer, ‘Albert Camus’, Horizon, 13 (1946) 155–68.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    See Jacques Derrida, ‘Signature Event Context’, Glyph, 1 (1977) 172–97; alsoGoogle Scholar
  7. John R. Searle, ‘Reiterating the Differences’, Glyph, 1 (1977) 198–208, and Derrida’s response to Searle, ‘Limited Inc abc …’, Glyph, 2 (1977) 162–254. All further references to this last essay are given by page number in the text.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    See discussions of this text in Christopher Norris, Deconstruction: Theory and Practice (London: Methuen, 1982);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Michael Ryan, Marxism and Deconstruction (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982);Google Scholar
  10. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘Revolutions That As Yet Have No Model: Derrida’s “Limited Inc.”’, Diacritics, 10 (1980) 29–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 13.
    Michael Ayers, ‘Analytical Philosophy and the History of Philosophy’, in Jonathan Rée, Michael Ayers and Adam Westoby (eds), Philosophy and its Past (Hassocks, Sussex: Harvester, 1978) pp. 41–66.Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    H. H. Price, Hume’s Theory of the External World (London: Oxford University Press, 1940). Quoted by Ayers, in Rée et al., Philosophy and its Past, p. 50.Google Scholar
  13. 16.
    Jacques Derrida, La Carte postale de Socrate à Freud et au-delà (Paris: Aubier-Flammarion, 1980).Google Scholar
  14. 17.
    Jacques Derrida, Of Grammnatology, tr. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976). See esp. ch. 2, ‘Linguistics and Grammatology’ (pp. 27–73).Google Scholar
  15. 20.
    Jacques Derrida, ‘Plato’s Pharmacy’, in Dissemination, tr. Barbara Johnson (London: Athlone Press, 1981) pp. 61–171.Google Scholar
  16. 22.
    Shoshana Felman, Le Seandale du corps parlant: Don Juan avec Austin ou la séduction en deux langues (Paris: Seuil, 1980).Google Scholar
  17. 24.
    Richard Rorty, ‘Deconstruction and Circumvention’, Critical Inquiry, 11 (1984) 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 27.
    Stanley Cavell, Must We Mean What We Say? (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969) p. 43.Google Scholar
  19. 28.
    Henry Staten, Wittgenstein and Derrida (Lincoln, Nebr., and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1984) p. 75.Google Scholar
  20. 29.
    Gregory Ulmer, Applied Grammatology: Post-Pedagogy from Jacques Derrida to Joseph Beuys (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985) p. 147.Google Scholar
  21. 30.
    Jacques Derrida, Edmund Husserl’s ‘The Origin of Geometry’: An Introduction, tr. John P. Leavey Jr (New York: Nicolas Hays, 1978) pp. 101–2.Google Scholar

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© Ceri Crossley and Ian Small 1988

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