The question of an extra-linguistic reality: Between Derrida and Bergson

Nicholas Dominick Tirone, Fordham University


"The question of an extra-linguistic reality: Between Derrida and Bergson" is an exposition of the "between" which is necessarily omitted from differential linguistic structures. An examination of Derrida's notion of differance, taking into account the "inhabit/inhibit" structure of differentiation, is hermeneutically employed in a reading of Bergson's crucial dualisms to reveal the "between" which is there yet not represented by linguistic oppositions. The dissertation opens with an exposition of Derrida's differance, first noting the ramifications of the letter 'A', and then moving into a study of the differ/defer activity of differentiation. With this framework established, the reader begins a study of Bergson's Time and Free Will. Here, the duration/space and heterogeneity/homogeneity dichotomies are explored according to the Derridean analysis; parallels between Derrida and Bergson and emphasized, especially regarding temporality. The reading of Bergson moves into an analysis of Creative Evolution where the plant/animal and instinct/intellect dichotomies are given a similar account designed to reveal the "between" which interpermeates the differends. Again, certain parallels between Derrida and Bergson are noted. Finally, both are shown to be philosophers of the "between," of that reality which remains un-represented by the narrow parameters of linguistic opposition structures. The dissertation commands importance on several levels. Regarding the history of philosophy, it suggests a connection between Bergson and Derrida, perhaps the two most profound French-language philosophers of this century. Philosophically, regarding Bergsonism itself, it refutes the opinion that Bergson is a dualist by showing that Bergson is aware of the illusory nature of linguistic constructions. Furthermore, it provides insight into Bergson's philosophy of language which is significant to the field as a whole. Moreover, regarding Derrida, it adds a new dimension to an understanding of differance, not only by placing that understanding within a French historical context, but also by suggesting how certain interpretations of Derrida, such as those which suggest an entrapment within language, are misguided. Finally, the dissertation is to be seen as an opening, engendering further consideration of the relationship between Bergson and Derrida.

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Recommended Citation

Tirone, Nicholas Dominick, "The question of an extra-linguistic reality: Between Derrida and Bergson" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9313771.