The Apophatic Trace of Derrida and Zhuangzi

Part of the Palgrave Frontiers in Philosophy of Religion book series (PFPR)


This chapter is motivated by the desire to explain how apophatic thinking is transcribed from the confines of a text to the limitlessness of authentic, pure experience. One solution presents itself in Jacques Derrida’s idea of trace. For Derrida, the trace was not only a means by which to conceive what lies beyond the text, as a remainder of the event of apophasis, it also speaks to the name that names nothing. Another solution lies in Chinese philosophy, particularly the ancient Daoist thinker Zhuangzi. Known for his view that words fail to convey the true nature of reality, Zhuangzi’s stance is a reversal of Derrida’s insofar as he utilizes the idea of non-trace to display the tracelessness of apophatic Ultimacy. In addition to elucidating the hidden properties of the trace and non-trace, this chapter will also argue that both terms are congruent with the creative power of Ultimacy.

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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyChinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong

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