Derrida Abstract

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Abstract 4:”Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences”
“Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences” was written by Jacques Derrida, a French philosopher, as a contribution to a colloquium on structuralism in 1966. This piece was known for Derrida’s contradiction of structuralism, and his formation of three main ideas: complexity of meaning-making, meaning existence, and interpretation.

Derrida begins his piece by talking about the center of structure. The center of a piece, as Derrida explains it, is what people are striving to get towards. The center is what guides the story, and organizes how the reader will read it. The center is not able to be transformed nor changed in any way by anyone. Derrida though, explains that the center can never be reached, because words are the only way to describe it, and words are what Derrida calls metaphors for what was actually intended. What is written on the paper is not a previous thought or story, rather than a detonator of thoughts and interpretations, which Derrida believes there is an infinite number of, because every person interprets the text differently according to their background and experiences. Derrida also explains that freeplay, the interplay of absence and presence, which he talks about, to get as close to the center as possible. Later on, he talks about totalization, and the fact that the totalization of the piece can never be reached because words can be continuously broken down into a new meaning.

Derrida states as he is explaining an example through Levi-Strauss that interpretation of the text does not solely depend on the culture, or the “norm” of society, as structuralism is based around. People’s culture, the nature around them, time, author, and reader in collaboration make the meaning of a text. People’s surroundings and experiences help form their opinions and thoughts, and play a major role in interpreting a story that an author has...
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