Edited By Ludwig Nagl and Chantal Mouffe
Stephen Mulhall: Deconstruction and the ordinary 75
Stephen Mulhall Deconstruction and the ordinary Why has Jacques Derrida never, in the course of his long, prolific and wide- ranging intellectual career, engaged in a detailed reading of Wittgenstein's Philo- sophical Investigations? Even if we acknowledge that that not even a writer of Derrida's legendary productivity can hope to address every text in the history of philosophy in which he might have an interest, my question remains pressing, because the highly distinctive prose of the Investigations appears to pose in an unusually powerful way at once an invitation and a challenge to what one might call deconstructive reading. I would hardly be inviting controversy to describe Wittgenstein's writing in this book as 'patient, open, aporetical, in constant trans- formation, often more fruitful in the acknowledgement of its impasses than its positions'; but in so describing it, I would be reciting words Derrida himself uses to characterize those aspects of the work of J.L.Austin which attracted him suf- ficiently to devote an essay to certain parts of it. 1 Hence, one way of thinking of my question is as an invitation to imagine a deconstructive reading of the Investi- gations as a way of continuing the exploration of what is often called ordinary language philosophy that Derrida began in the three essays collected in Limited Inc. Of course, Derrida himself might initially be inclined to find this way of casting my invitation the very reverse of appealing; the Afterword to Limited Inc makes it abundantly clear just how disturbing he...
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