Sunday, March 27, 2005

"transcendent / transcendental" and Derrida

A couple of posts back Andrew Montin made the following comments about the transcendent/transcendental distinction in Derrida. I thought the comments were illuminating even though lacking any specialised knowledge of Derrida I cannot add much to them. I thought others with more Derrida knowledge might benefit from them and might have something to add (hope Andrew does not mind us putting them here).

"I just wanted to say something about the transcendent / transcendental issue in Derrida.

In "Introduction to Husserl's Origin of Geometry" (English trans.), Derrida on p.146, n.177 writes after quoting Husserl:

"If the Idea is thought here to have a transcendental sense and, as we shall see in a moment, is "beyond" only compared with the constituted moment of transcendental subjectivity, we can observe that Husserl profoundly recuperates the original scholastic sense of the transcendental (unum, verum, bonum, etc., as the transcategorial of Aristotelian logic) over and above its Kantian meaning, but also in a development of the Kantian enterprise."

So it seems that Derrida attributes the "confusion" between the transcendent and transcendental, or more precisely between the Scholastic and Kantian senses, to Husserl. At any rate, Derrida doesn't consider them mutually exclusive. The issue crops up again in "The Supplement of Copula" (Margins, p. 195):

"Here we are taking the word 'transcendental' in its most rigorous accepted sense, in its most avowed 'technicalness,' precisely as it was fixed in the course of the development of the Aristotelian problematic of the categories, including whatever remains beyond the categories. Transcendental means transcategorical. Literally, 'that which transcends every genre.' (Despite the contextual differences, this definition of the word undoubtedly invented by the Chancellor Philip, 1128, also suits the Kantian and Husserlian concepts of the transcendental.)"

In a passage in "Of Grammatology" Derrida restricts his notion of the transcendental (as he does above, but given what he says about Husserl and Kant, how restrictive is this restriction?) to the Scholastic sense when dealing with the transcendental signified:

"[T]he 'transcendental' signified ('transcendental' in a certain sense, as in the Middle Ages the transcendental - ens,unum, verum, bonum - was said to be the 'primum cognitum')..." (p. 20)

If in Derrida this doesn't lead to a "naturalization of the transcendental" or a "collapsing into a psychologization of transcendence" it is because he originally found justification for this convergence in the phenomenological tradition."

1 comment:

steven edward streight said...

Isn't the transcendental still just another trace, differance, supplement, or pharmakon?

To make statements about an item does never axiomatically mean that one actually knows anything about that item.

--a Derridaen blogologist: steven streight aka leopold the told aka vaspers the grate

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