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Derrida and Husserl

The Basic Problem of Phenomenology

Leonard Lawlor

Publication Year: 2002

"[A] magnificent work... that will definitely shape the discussion on Derrida for years to come." -- Rodolphe Gasché

What is the nature of the relationship of Jacques Derrida and deconstruction to Edmund Husserl and phenomenology? Is deconstruction a radical departure from phenomenology or does it trace its origins to the phenomenological project? In Derrida and Husserl, Leonard Lawlor illuminates Husserl's influence on the French philosophical tradition that inspired Derrida's thought. Beginning with Eugen Fink's pivotal essay on Husserl's philosophy, Lawlor carefully reconstructs the conceptual context in which Derrida developed his interpretation of Husserl. Lawlor's investigations of the work of Jean Cavaillès, Tran-Duc-Thao, and Jean Hyppolite, as well as recent texts by Derrida, reveal the depth of Derrida's relationship to Husserl's phenomenology. Along the way, Lawlor revisits and sheds light on the origin of many important Derridean concepts, such as deconstruction, the metaphysics of presence, différance, intentionality, the trace, and spectrality.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Studies in Continental Thought


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pp. ix


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pp. xi-xii

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The Original Motivation: Defend the Derridean Faith

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pp. 1-7

This book, I hope, will at least be the keystone of a genuine work of philosophy that I shall produce some day. Over the time that I wrote this book,1 I slowly realized that Heidegger’s attempt in Being and Time to reopen the question of being is the defining event of twentieth-century philosophy.2 ...

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1. Genesis as the Basic Problem of Phenomenology

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pp. 11-23

It is well known that Eugen Fink’s 1933 Kantstudien essay, “The Phenomenological Philosophy of Edmund Husserl and Contemporary Criticism,” finally expanded the French understanding of Husserl’s phenomenology;1 in particular, Fink introduced terms such as “act-intentionality,”...

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2. The Critique of Phenomenology: An Investigation of “ ‘Genesis and Structure’ and Phenomenology”

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pp. 24-33

Although the examination of Fink’s 1933 Kantstudien essay places Derrida firmly in the center of an incontestable tradition of Husserl’s interpretation, Derrida’s interpretation of Husserl must be seen as a critique of Husserlian phenomenology. The critique can be seen most easily in Derrida’s “‘Genesis and Structure’ and Phenomenology.” ...

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3. The Critique of Ontology: An Investigation of “The Ends of Man”

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pp. 34-44

The revisions Derrida made to “ ‘Genesis and Structure’ ” for its inclusion in the 1967 Writing and Difference show that Derrida was in the process of rethinking the relation of phenomenology to metaphysics. In Derrida’s 1968 “The Ends of Man,” his “critique of phenomenology” is a critique of it as the metaphysics of presence. ...

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4. Upping the Ante on Dialectic: An Investigation of Le Problème de la genèse dans la philosophie de Husserl

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pp. 47-87

In Derrida’s first investigation of Husserl, his Mémoire from the academic year 1953–54, Le Problème de la genèse dans la philosophie de Husserl (only published in 1990), his critique of phenomenology, his critique of its teleology and its archeology, is already in place. ...

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5. The Root, That Is Necessarily One, of Every Dilemma: An Investigation of the Introduction to Husserl’s “The Origin of Geometry”

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pp. 88-142

In Le Problème de la genèse, Derrida asks the question that leads Husserl in “The Origin of Geometry” to a consideration of language: “How do we pass from an absolutely originary pre-predicative individual state . . . to the existence of a geometrical being in its ideal objectivity” (PGH 267)? ...

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6. More Metaphysical than Metaphysics: An Investigation of“Violence and Metaphysics”

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pp. 145-165

We now enter the most crucial period in the development of Derrida’s early thinking, the mid-sixties.1 Four things seem to happen during this period. First, Derrida deepens his understanding of the dialectic between phenomenology and ontology with which he closed both the 1962 Introduction...

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7. The Test of the Sign: An Investigation of Voice and Phenomenon

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pp. 166-208

We now enter the climax of our investigation. When one is investigating Voice and Phenomenon, it is always important to keep in mind its subtitle: “Introduction to the Problem of the Sign in Husserl’s Phenomenology.” The problem of the sign has come to replace, for Derrida, the problem of genesis. ...

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8. Looking for Noon at Two O’Clock: An Investigation of Specters of Marx

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pp. 211-225

Voice and Phenomenon brings Derrida’s formative period to a close.1 As is well known, from 1967 on, Derrida’s thought will develop in many directions and into many domains. In general, however, the concepts forged during this first period (from 1954 to 1967) remain in place in the later writings. ...

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The Final Idea: Memory and Life

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pp. 226-234

The phrase “looking for noon at two o’clock” defines the new kind of thinking that Derrida inaugurated, deconstruction. We have laid out the narrative of this inauguration. The prologue to this narrative was Fink’s famous 1933 Kantstudien essay on Husserl; indeed, the phrase “the basic problem of phenomenology”...


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pp. 235-266


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pp. 267-281


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pp. 283-286

E-ISBN-13: 9780253109156
E-ISBN-10: 0253109159
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253340498

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 1 index
Publication Year: 2002

Series Title: Studies in Continental Thought