Looking at Michael Millerman’s Chapter (2020) “Derrida” (Part 1 of 5)

0001 A chapter on Derrida appears in Michael Millerman’s Book (2020) Beginning with Heidegger: Strauss, Rorty, Derrida and Dugin and the Philosophical Constitution of the Political (Arktos Press), pages 135-166.  This fourth chapter considers the writings of the French Jacques Derrida (1930-2004 AD) concerning the German Martin Heidegger (1889-1976).

Millerman’s book consists of a long introduction, followed by chapters on Martin Heidegger, Leo Strauss, Richard Rorty, Jacques Derrida and Alexander Dugin.  The latter chapters discuss what the other philosophers say about Heidegger.  The method sounds like a doctoral dissertation.

My interest, of course, is to associate features of the arguments to purely relational structures, such as the category-based nested form or the Greimas square.

0002 Here, I look only at chapter four entitled, “Derrida”.  Derrida comments on Heidegger in two notable incidents. First, Heidegger is mentioned in an essay comparing deconstruction to negative theology.  Second, Derrida writes an essay entitled, “Heidegger’s Ear”.

Millerman approaches the first incident with caution, asking (more or less), “Is it possible to see how Derrida locates himself in a different place than Heidegger?”

Locates himself?

In slang, the question is, “Where is he coming from?”

0003 Where is Derrida coming from?

The first incident of note is an essay by Derrida in a book, Derrida and Negative Theology, edited by Harold Coward and Toby Froshay (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992). The title of the essay is “How To Avoid Speaking: Denials”.  Here, Derrida responds to claims that deconstruction resembles negative theology.  He says no.  Apophatic mysticism is hyperessential.  Deconstruction is all about the machinations of language.

0004 Hyperessential?

In order to appreciate this comment in terms of purely relational structures.  I associate the above accusation and responseto Peirce’s category of secondness, the realm of actuality.  The category of secondness contains two contiguous real elements.  For Aristotle’s hylomorphe, the two real elements are matter and form.  I label the contiguity, [substance].  The nomenclature is matter [substance] form.

For apophatic mysticism, the form is the human, as a vessel, having emptied “himself” of all matters.

For deconstruction, I follow Ferdinand de Saussure’s (1857-1913 AD) definition of language as two arbitrarily related systems of differences, the spoken word (parole) and the corresponding thought (langue).  Parole corresponds to matter.  Langue corresponds to form.  [Arbitrary relation] serves as the contiguity.

0005 Here is a picture.

Figure 01

0006 Essence is substantiated form.

Derrida claims that negative theology is hyperessential.  This makes sense because the essence, {[emptiness] vessel2f}, has no corresponding esse_ce (a play on the Latin term, esse, representing [matter2m [substantiating]}.  As soon as matter appears in the slot, —-2m, then the contiguity becomes very difficult (if not impossible) to maintain, and something passes into the vessel, against all mystical admonishments saying, “Keep the vessel2f empty.”

Here is a picture of how esse_ce and essence play out in the realm of actuality2 for hylomorphism, apophatic mysticism and deconstruction.

Figure 02