Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Deconstruction | English Literature | UGC NET


Deconstruction has been presented as a philosophical position, a political or intellectual stance or just simply as a strategy of reading. As a students of literature and literary theory, should be interested in its power as a mode of reading; therefore most of the points about Deconstruction

Deconstruction: Every philosophical argument is structured in terms of oppositions and in this "traditional philosophical opposition we have not a peaceful co-existence of facing terms but a violent hierarchy. One of the terms dominates the other, occupies the commanding position. To deconstruct the opposition is above all, at a particular moment to reverse the hierarchy". Deconstruction, Derrida implies, looks upon a text as inherently riddled with hierarchical oppositions. A deconstructive reading uncovers not only these hierarchical oppositions but also shows that the superior term in the opposition can be seen as inferior. When we put together some other strategies of Deconstruction outlined in Derrida's writings, a working definition begins to emerge.
Derrida cited above in order to advance our working idea of Deconstruction. Broadly speaking Derrida and Culler are making these points:

  • ' Deconstruction is a "searching out" or dismantling operation conducted on a discourse to show:
  • How the discourse itself undermines the argument (philosophy) it asserts.
  • One way of doing it is to see how the argument is structured/construct, that is investigate its rhetorical status or argumentative strategy. As Derrida argues, this structure often the product of a hierarchy in which two opposed terms are presented as superior and inferior. Deconstruction then pulls the carpet from below the superior by showing the limited basis of its superiority and thus reverses the hierarchy, making the superior, inferior.
4.       This reversed hierarchy is again open to the same deconstructive operation. In a way, Deconstruction is a permanent act of destabilization.
Deconstruction points to a fallacy not in the way the first or second hierarchy is constructed but in the very process of creating hierarchies in human thought (which as I have stated earlier, is indispensable to most if not all human arguments or thought. Deconstruction does not lead us from a faulty to a correct way of thinking or writing. Rather it shows us the limitations of human thought operating through I language even while harboring the same limitations itself. Every deconstructive operation relies on the same principle it sets out to deconstruct and is thus open to deconstruction itself
Deconstruction is not simply about reversing hierarchies though it is one of the things a deconstructive analysis achieves. Fundamentally, it is a way of understanding the structure of a discourse, locating its controlling centre and identifying the unfounded assumptions on which it relies to function as a discourse. It may be compared to a probing operation that uncovers fault lines in a discourse, which may include ideological assumptions and suppositions.
Deconstruction, English Literature, Ugc Net Notes, Myexamsolution

Nietzsche's Deconstruction of Causality

Nietzsche's deconstruction of causality. Causality is an accepted fact of our life. In our day-to-day life we take it for granted that one event causes another that causes produce effects. This is the principle of causality and it asserts that cause comes before effect in tern of time and reason. That is when we think, cause always gets a priority in creating and existing before an effect. Yet, Nietzsche argues that this principle of causality is not given hut the product of a rhetorical operation, which effects a chronological reversal. Suppose one sits and feels a pain. This leads one to look for a cause and noticing a pin discovers the cause for the pain. In the process of explaining the pain one reverses the order in which perception took place instead of 'pain to pin’ one thinks: pin to pain.
First, it does not lead to the conclusion that the principle of causality is faulty and should be done away with. On the contrary, the deconstruction itself relies on the notion of cause: the experience of pain causes us to discover the pin and thus causes the production of a cause. To deconstruct causality one must operate with the principle of causation itself. To repeat what has been said earlier4e deconstruction operates through the very principle it deconstructs. It attacks a rational structure from the inside.

Second, Deconstruction reverses the hierarchical opposition of the causal scheme. In our normal distinctions between cause and effect, the cause becomes the origin of the effect, producing it in some way. The effect is derived, secondary and dependent upon the cause. Deconstruction exchanges these properties and upsets the hierarchy. If the effect (i.e. pain) causes the cause (i.e. pin) to become a cause, then the effect and not the cause should be treated as the origin. We have already seen that the effect cannot be treated as the origin
The Inaugural Moment: "Structure Sign and Play in the, Discourse of the Human science"
This is a difficult essay. Please read and re-read the original before reading and rereading this explanation. Post-Structuralism or even Deconstruction as a movement begins, opposing itself to Structuralism as well as traditional Humanism and Empiricism.
Structuralism, taking its cue from Saussurean linguistics held out the hope of achieving a scientific account of the structure of a wide range of cultural phenomena. The structural Anthropology of Levi Strauss tried to do this for myths.
In literature, critics like Jakobson and Todorov tried to outline the structure of poetry and the narrative respectively.
Derrida's opposition and critique of the structuralist project begins with the observation that all such analyses imply that they are based on some secure ground, a ‘centre’ that is outside the system under investigation and guarantees its intelligibility. Such a secure ground for Derrida is a philosophical fiction, created by the structuralist in the hope of discovering that scientific account. That is to say, there is no fixed or definite structure, of say, a myth. One has to decide the idea or the centre around which one would want to study the structure of the myth.
Deconstruction: Derrida
Derrida comments " how can one perceive an organized whole except by starting with its end or purpose” Similarly in literature, unless one has postulated a definite meaning for a work one cannot discover its structure, for the structure is that by which the end, or that meaning, is made present.
A different meaning would entail a different structure. So, the structuralist knows beforehand the entity whose structure she is investigating and whose constituent units and interrelations she is outlining. -This knowledge is necessary if the structure has to be presented as coherent. This knowledge is the centre Derrida refers to. So, when he claims that the study of a structure is governed by "a move which consists of giving it a centre" what he perhaps means is that a priori knowledge which in a sense dictates the structures the analyst will find in the text. Understandably, he also claims that this centre forms and organizes the structure, permitting certain combinations of elements and excluding others. This notion should not be difficult to understand. When one speaks of the structure of a literary work, one starts with the meanings or effects of the work and tries to identify the structures responsible for those effects. Possible configurations or patterns, which do not contribute, are rejected as irrelevant. That is to say, an understanding of the work's meaning functions as the "centre', governing its play. It is both the starting point that enables one to identify structures as well as a limiting principle.
Derrida, in this essay identifies such a "centre" functioning in Levis Strauss' structural anthropology. If we take this notion to the hierarchy in binary oppositions we have already discussed, the centre would refer to the controlling intent that constructs the hierarchy and ensures that it stays in place. But to grant any principle, intuitive understanding or primary knowledge this privileged status is an ideological step. Notions of meaning of a particular work are determined by the contingent fact of readers' history and the critical and ideological concepts current at that time. Why should these particular cultural products be allowed to remain outside the play of structure, limiting it but not limited by it in turn? To make any effect the fixed point of one's analysis cannot but seem a dogmatic and prescriptive move, which reflects the desire for absolute and authoritative meanings. Therefore, the status of such centres came to be seriously questioned "at the moment when theory began to consider the structured nature of structures", writes Derrida. Implicitly, the statement also claims that structural thought had shown a blindness towards its controlling "centre" and was deluded that it was discovering structures when it was actually constructing them from the textual matter, under the control of a centre.
Post structuralism
Post structuralism corrected this blindness of Structuralism and opened the possibility of displacing the "centre" during an analysis of the system itself. Though one could not start without an implicit' explicit centre, Post structuralism hopes to displace the centre from its role of an unexamined postulate by its rigorous deconstructive analyses. It is with this conviction, not to let any centre function as an unexamined postulate that Deconstruction approaches not only structuralist but all discourses, for Demda's point is that Structuralism shares with Western metaphysics this desire for a stable centre. This is commonly referred to as the decentering of a system. It implies that there is no centre that cannot be replaced by another one, which itself would be equally vulnerable.
Deconstructing Saussurean Linguistics
Deconstructing Saussurean Linguistics Beginning Deconstruction Saussure built his linguistic theory around certain hierarchies, which if investigated thoroughly can be found to be problematic.
(a) Langue / parole. Saussure conceived of language as a stable system and shifted the focus of linguistics from a study of its parole to its langue. He did this because he believed that a diachronic study of parole would be extremely varied and thus impossible to complete, while a synchronic study of langue was systematically possible. Further, Saussure postulated the sign theory and argued that the word 'cat' is 'car' because it is not 'cap' or 'bat'. 'Cat' is also what it is because it is not ' bat' 'mat' and so on. It would seem that this process of difference in language could be traced round infinitely. But if this is so, what has become of Saussure's idea that language forms a stable system whose langue he was out to study. Saussure's langue suggested a delimited structure but it appears impossible that in language we can draw a line. In other words langue comes to harbour some of the key characteristics of parole.
(b) Signified Signifier: Saussure's sign theory insists on the purely differential nature of the sign but maintains a rigorous distinction between the signifier and the signified. The signified is equated with a concept while the signifier is associated with a material or verbal form. The signifier, in Saussure's theory exists to give access to the already existing signified. This, according to Derrida, is problematic for he suggests that Saussure's
equation between the signified and the concept leaves open in principle the possibility of conceiving a signified concept in itself, a concept simply present to thought, independent from the linguistic system, that is to say, from a system of signifiers. In leaving this possibility open, accedes to the traditional demand of what I have proposed to call a "transcendental signified" which in itself or in its essence would not refer to any signifier, which would transcend the chain of signs and at a certain moment would no longer itself function as a signifier. On the contrary from the moment one puts into question the possibility of such a transcendental signified and recognizes that every signified is also in the position-of a signifier, the distinction between signifier and signified and thus the notion of sign becomes problematic at its root"

That is to say, if you want to know the meaning (signified) of a signifier, you can look it up in the dictionary but all you will find are more signifiers and so on. The process we are discussing is not only infinite but also circular---That is, at a particular point in this search, one may land up with the same signifier one started with and repeat the same process again. Signified can only be known in and as signifier you will never arrive at a final signified which is not a signifier in itself. So, the concept of a signified may be theoretically valid but doesn't exist in practice.
This does not mean that the notion of sign could or should be scrapped; on the contrary, the distinction between what signifies and what is signified is essential to any thought. But it does follow that the distinction between the signifier and the signified cannot be one of substance. Saussure's linguistic theory is thus, on the one hand, a powerful critique of logocentrism and on the other hand its explicit affirmation. His arguments about the purely differential nature of the sign and the absence of any positive content in it are the critique. At the same time the assumption that the signifier exists to give access to the signified and thus seems to be subordinated to the concept or meaning that it communicates, is the affirmation.
 So, Derrida says that the neat distinction between a signifier and a signified and the primacy granted to the signified in Saussure's theory cannot be accepted and the hierarchy has to be reversed.
Deconstructing Presence
The immediacy of sensation: It is commonplace to assume that on touching something we recognize its heat on a pre-linguistic plane, that is its heat is a priori present and then the mind processes it in terms of language and transforms that sensation into the word hot . On the contrary, deconstruction would see here a fault similar to Saussure's privileging of speech and argue that nothing exists on the pre-linguistic plane and the sensation is recognized as hot only via language.
The presence of ultimate truths to divine consciousness: This pervades almost the whole of Plato's philosophy. In banishing the artist from his Republic, Plato argued that the artist was at three removes from the ideal. So, there is the divine idea of a chair that is its essence, which the carpenter copies by giving it a material form. The painter copies further from the carpenter's model and is thus at three removes from the idea essence. Deconstruction would show that the essence or idea of a chair is a construct deriving from the carpenter's or the artist's creation.

Truth as what subsists behind appearance: We have seen this notion operating behind Saussure's assumption that language is an appearance behind which truth lies. Deconstruction would argue that all truths are linguistic constructs. The notions of "making clear", "grasping", and “demonstrating" and as you have already seen "defining" all invoke the, notion of presence. That is, these notions presume independent existences which they set out to define or demonstrate. All presences are constructs of systems-to define something is in a very crucial sense to recreate it. Deconstruction works through its close readings to reveal that any notion of presence on which a discourse banks is a fiction, which can be seen to be created within that system.

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