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Derrida/Searle: Deconstruction and Ordinary Language

by Raoul Moati Columbia University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 160 pages
AU$49.99 NZ$52.17
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Raoul Moati intervenes in the critical debate that divided two prominent philosophers in the mid-twentieth century. In the 1950s, the British philosopher J L Austin advanced a theory of speech acts, or the 'performative,' that Jacques Derrida and John R Searle interpreted in fundamentally different ways. Their disagreement centred on the issue of intentionality, which Derrida understood phenomenologically and Searle read pragmatically. The controversy had profound implications for the development of contemporary philosophy, which, Moati argues, can profit greatly by returning to this classic debate. In this book, Moati systematically replays the historical encounter between Austin, Derrida, and Searle and the disruption that caused the lasting break between Anglo-American language philosophy and continental traditions of phenomenology and its deconstruction. The key issue, Moati argues, is not whether 'intentionality,' a concept derived from Husserl's phenomenology, can or cannot be linked to Austin's speech-acts as defined in his groundbreaking How to Do Things with Words, but rather the emphasis Searle placed on the performativity and determined pragmatic values of Austin's speech-acts, whereas Derrida insisted on the trace of writing behind every act of speech and the iterability of signs in different contexts.

Foreword: Per Formam Domi, by Jean-Michel Rabaté
Introduction: The Circumstances of an "Improbable" Debate
1. The Iterative as the Reverse Side of the Performative
2. Do Intentions Dissolve in Iteration? From Differance to the Dispute (Différend)

A thoughtful and judicious analysis...
Raoul Moati is a French philosopher and an assistant professor of continental philosophy at the University of Chicago. His books include Psychanalyse, marxisme, idealisme allemand, autour de Slavoj Zizek and Evenements Nocturnes, Essai sur Totalite et Infini. Timothy Attanucci is a lecturer in German at Princeton University. Maureen Chun is a postdoctoral fellow and honorary assistant professor of English at the University of Hong Kong. Jean-Michel Rabate is a professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Pennsylvania.