Wednesday, November 30, 2005

An Extract, from "On Being With Others"

Simon Glendinning, On Being With Others: Heidegger - Derrida - Wittgenstein, Routledge, London, 1998, pp. 84-85

"Closing Philosophy

... The most salient contrast to previous philosophy lies in [Wittgenstein and Derrida's] common refusal to accept that their work marks the 'apocalyptic' end of philosophy in the sense of a final completion or 'once and for all' achievement of a state of complete clarity that stands in need of no further (essential) supplementation... Moreover, both name the attempt to achieve such complete clarity 'philosophy'. Of course, it is not in the least peculiar to either Wittgenstein or Derrida to write of, and hence in some sense to write beyond, a tradition they are willing to call simply 'philosophy'. Indeed, no philosophy can really do otherwise. However, it is a recurrent feature of the history of philosophy that 'new' modes of thought (new 'signatures': Aristotelian, Cartesian, Humean, Kantian, Hegelian, Fregean etc.) have always positioned themselves in some way in a relation of final mastery over those discourses they claim to supercede. With each new stage in the history of philosophy a new claim is made to have found a new way of achieving complex clarity which brings philosophy to an end.

It is precisely in this respect that the kind of approach pursued by both Wittgenstein and Derrida constitutes a new 'kink' in the history of philosophy which separates their writings from previous Western thought. In contrast to the classical 'discourses of the end', the writings of Derrida and Wittgenstein effect what might be called a 'closure' of a tradition. Closure does not aim to bring a tradition or 'historical totality' to an end by fulfilling its aims. Indeed, it resists the assumption that it can ever 'end' in that sense. Rather, it aims to identify the basic structural figure which characterizes the tradition as such."


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