The Wounds of Rhetoric: Derrida on Condillac and Rousseau

Paragraph 44 (2):192-213 (2021)
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The publication of Derrida's fragment Le Calcul des langues — Distyle offers an insight into Derrida's negotiation with empiricism and his rethinking of rhetoric in the early 1970s. Delineating Condillac's pervasive idealization of empiricism, Derrida gestures to a pain-becoming-pleasure and pleasure-becoming-pain that resists the fixed identity of the proper body. His emphasis on the pains and wounds of rhetoric registers both the limits of Condillac's philosophical project and the possibility of another kind of empiricism, of the gaps that border on the word and the body. The article includes a reading of rhetoric and sex in Rousseau, as a gesture to Derrida's still unpublished seminar on rhetoric. It closes with an examination of the two-columned nature of Derrida's work, which ends mid-word and mid-sentence.



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