A dumb idea, that’s what. Okay, that’s a little unfair. Being tired makes me cranky.
Anyway, I found a reference (in a generally rather critical response to the book, one I can’t really respond to as I’ve not read the book nor have I read much Derrida) from Wheeler’s Deconstruction As Analytic Philosophy that reminded me why I was so excited when I started reading it. For the life of me I can’t remember why I never finished it. It was probably due back at the library or something. In any case, must add that one pretty near the top of the infinite book list.
A magic language is
“a language that is, in Wittgenstein’s terms, self-interpreting.” (3) A magic language would be one in which the meaning of a particular word is essentially associated with that word. Since most of us would accept that words have to be interpreted by someone in order to have the meaning they do, we don’t tend to think of language as “magical” in this sense. The thesis Wheeler upholds throughout the book is that: “The basic thought common to Davidson, Derrida and Quine is that any language consisting of any kind of marks, whether marks on paper or marks in the soul, is no better than words.” (61f., 218) In other words, not even the “language” of thought, not even our ideas, have a meaning which is intrinsic to them. They too have to be interpreted, and so the process of interpretation never comes to end: “the meaning of a word can only be given in other words.”
The following strike me:
- One is always-already in the middle somewhere, not at a beginning or an ending, and certainly not at any Archimedian (sp?) point.
- There are no best vocabularies, except in regard to aims/ends.
- The view of only having access to interpretations can only be consistent by being self-reflexive, which is to say that the idea that we only have access to interpretations can not be treated as having an uninterpreted meaning.
My hunch here is that it’s hard to use this perspective to make positive claims, but rather that it’s better suited to negative or deflationary moves. This may be my reading in, as I simply like these kinds of moves. Also, clearly the emphasis on negative or deflationary moves can not be taken as the meaning of this viewpoint outside of interpretation. Rather, it’s a hypothesis or speculation on the efficacy of making consistent positive claims using this viewpoint.