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Being and Difference

The signified, within the Western Tradition, has always been determined by presence, yet it is also never fully contemporary. This might be understood as a problem of language, of the question begged in posing the essential question of philosophy, “what is…”

Heidegger, according to Derrida, reinstates rather than destroys the instance of the logos and the truth of being as the “primum signatum.” The truth of being, or the sense of being, becomes the anchor to which everything else clings to attain relative significance. One hears the voice of being transparently as consciousness, as the absolute effacement of the signifier: the signified that attains full presence:

[P]ure auto-affection that necessarily has the form of time and which does not borrow from outside of itself, in the world or in “reality,” any accessory signifier, any substance of expression foreign to its own spontaneity. It is the unique experience of the signified producing itself spontaneously, from within the self, and nevertheless, as signified concept, in the element of ideality or universality.

While Heidegger insists on reminding us that the word being is not the sense of being, and although the sense of being in fact does not reduce to language, it cannot be untied from the possibility of the word in general. This problem contributes to the very question of being.

The question of being. To take up this question shakes up the unity of being and language, of being and the strictures and fields of language (to ask what being is already, in a sense, predetermines it; is being determined by presence before being questioned as such?). This contributes, as much as contemporary linguistics, to dislocating the sense of being, which is essential to the unity of the word. In addition to this, Heidegger believes that the sense of being is never actually a signified: it overflows the movement of the sign.

The sense of being is limited to the field of presence — in a way dominated — by linguistics, by the form of language. And, if the sense of being is denied its stature as a transcendental signified, as the ground, but seen to be a signifying trace, then some other needs fall into place: first, within the concept of ontico-ontological difference, not everything can be conceived of at once or at one go; second, that entity and being, ontic and ontological, etc, all are derivative in regard to difference and to Derrida’s concept of différance, an economic relation of differ/defer. Difference would be more originary than the “transcendence of Dasein,” but one would no longer determine it as such, since such a determination belongs to the field of onto-theology.

So: after spending several hours on as many pages, that’s what I’ve come up with.

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