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Early Derrida: An Introductory Course

Lecturer: Andrea Leon

Originally Taught: Evening School Semester 2 2011

Course Details:

One of the most recurrent misconceptions regarding Derrida´s thought is its alleged lack of philosophical precision. Hence, one of the main goals of this introductory course is to show the contrary: by reading Derrida’s punctilious reading of other authors we will follow the masterful exercise of his philosophical enquiry: an enquiry that shows not only the most careful attention to the detail of the arguments, but that also challenges the language in which philosophy as such functions. At the core of our questioning, following the hyperbolic Derridean thoughts, is the sheer possibility of signification.

This will be an introductory course, thus, it does not require previous knowledge of Derrida. However, it will require a careful reading  of some Derridean basic works, such as Of Grammatology, Speech and Phenomena, Writing and Difference and some crucial texts of Margins of Philosophy. This is in itself an immense task, but  reading Derrida means necessarily reading other authors. His thought is always embedded in other works. We will be then follow the Course in General Linguistics of Saussure, the theory of signs in Husserl, Rousseau´s theory of language, and the Speech Act Theory of Austin.

Derrida’s works:

  • Of Grammatology. 1974, John Hopkins University Press
  • Writing and Difference, 1978. The university of Chicago Press: "Force and Signification", “Genesis and Structure” and "Phenomenology.  Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences".
  • Speech and Phenomena. And other Essays on Husserl’s Theory of Signs. 1973. Northwestern University Press.
  • Margins of Philosophy, 1982, The Harvester Press: "Difference", "Form and Meaning: A note on the phenomenology of Language", "The Supplement of Copula: philosophy before Linguistics", and "Signature Event Context".