Much ado about ‘nothing’: evaluating three immanent critiques of post-structuralism

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Much ado about ‘nothing’ : evaluating three immanent critiques of post-structuralism. / Wenman, Mark.

In: Political Studies Review, Vol. 15, No. 4, 16.09.2017, p. 564-576.

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@article{317bbac5c15945cf81967bd53d341a97,
title = "Much ado about {\textquoteleft}nothing{\textquoteright}: evaluating three immanent critiques of post-structuralism",
abstract = "In this paper I defend Jacques Derrida{\textquoteright}s assumptions about language and discourse from three immanent critiques of post-structuralism. I refer to these as the ethical, metaphysical, and political critiques. At the heart of Derrida{\textquoteright}s approach is an emphasis on the terrain of signification, understood as a precondition of our perception of/engagement with {\textquoteleft}the world{\textquoteright}. This is encapsulated in his statement that {\textquoteleft}there is no(thing) outside of the text{\textquoteright}, and the ethical, metaphysical, and political critiques turn on what can or cannot be said about this {\textquoteleft}nothingness{\textquoteright} that marks the limit of the discursive terrain. I examine the assertions that the extra-discursive {\textquoteleft}nothingness{\textquoteright} is a) the source of an inscrutable ethical demand, b) can be understood as a material realm of {\textquoteleft}vital forces{\textquoteright}, and c) that nothing positive can be said about this limit point of the discursive, but {\textquoteleft}it{\textquoteright} nonetheless becomes manifest within the terrain of signification in the form of a disruptive event. Whilst I reject the ethical and metaphysical responses, I feel sympathy for the political critique of deconstruction. Indeed, I argue that politics unfolds in a tension between the manifestation of the event and the kinds of manoeuvres that are possible within the field of signification.",
keywords = "discourse, nothingness, ethics, the new materialism, the event",
author = "Mark Wenman",
year = "2017",
month = sep,
day = "16",
doi = "10.1177/1478929917712934",
language = "English",
volume = "15",
pages = "564--576",
journal = "Political Studies Review",
issn = "1478-9299",
publisher = "Wiley",
number = "4",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Much ado about ‘nothing’

T2 - evaluating three immanent critiques of post-structuralism

AU - Wenman, Mark

PY - 2017/9/16

Y1 - 2017/9/16

N2 - In this paper I defend Jacques Derrida’s assumptions about language and discourse from three immanent critiques of post-structuralism. I refer to these as the ethical, metaphysical, and political critiques. At the heart of Derrida’s approach is an emphasis on the terrain of signification, understood as a precondition of our perception of/engagement with ‘the world’. This is encapsulated in his statement that ‘there is no(thing) outside of the text’, and the ethical, metaphysical, and political critiques turn on what can or cannot be said about this ‘nothingness’ that marks the limit of the discursive terrain. I examine the assertions that the extra-discursive ‘nothingness’ is a) the source of an inscrutable ethical demand, b) can be understood as a material realm of ‘vital forces’, and c) that nothing positive can be said about this limit point of the discursive, but ‘it’ nonetheless becomes manifest within the terrain of signification in the form of a disruptive event. Whilst I reject the ethical and metaphysical responses, I feel sympathy for the political critique of deconstruction. Indeed, I argue that politics unfolds in a tension between the manifestation of the event and the kinds of manoeuvres that are possible within the field of signification.

AB - In this paper I defend Jacques Derrida’s assumptions about language and discourse from three immanent critiques of post-structuralism. I refer to these as the ethical, metaphysical, and political critiques. At the heart of Derrida’s approach is an emphasis on the terrain of signification, understood as a precondition of our perception of/engagement with ‘the world’. This is encapsulated in his statement that ‘there is no(thing) outside of the text’, and the ethical, metaphysical, and political critiques turn on what can or cannot be said about this ‘nothingness’ that marks the limit of the discursive terrain. I examine the assertions that the extra-discursive ‘nothingness’ is a) the source of an inscrutable ethical demand, b) can be understood as a material realm of ‘vital forces’, and c) that nothing positive can be said about this limit point of the discursive, but ‘it’ nonetheless becomes manifest within the terrain of signification in the form of a disruptive event. Whilst I reject the ethical and metaphysical responses, I feel sympathy for the political critique of deconstruction. Indeed, I argue that politics unfolds in a tension between the manifestation of the event and the kinds of manoeuvres that are possible within the field of signification.

KW - discourse

KW - nothingness

KW - ethics

KW - the new materialism

KW - the event

U2 - 10.1177/1478929917712934

DO - 10.1177/1478929917712934

M3 - Article

VL - 15

SP - 564

EP - 576

JO - Political Studies Review

JF - Political Studies Review

SN - 1478-9299

IS - 4

ER -