Writing Science: Grammageneous Idealities



Writing Science:


Grammageneous Idealities



Reading the entire oeuvre of Derrida always suggests plural entrances, plural différant solicitations, and plural sheaves—a sure sign of a truly great work. Here, in this text, I will grid his work through his very first major publication, in 1962, introduction to Edmund Husserl’s 1939 “Die Frage nach dem Ursprung der Geometrie als intentionalhistorisches Problem,” viz. Derrida’s Traduction et Introduction á L’Origine de la géométrie d’Edmund Husserl.4 All subsequent works will be grafted onto this first one, measured up against it, read and sifted through it, it being the strategic sheaf, faisceau —the function not being unlike to what Derrida once did in his 1968 “La différance”—through which is seized his aim launched in Introduction. This so the main reason being that the minute and scrupulous critique he there proposed to undertake of science in general by way of a reading of Husserl, at least insofar as “ideal Objectivity” concerns, was more or less left on its own after its publication, but the primary and uncertain drifting of which all subsequent works nonetheless touch, relocate, remember, traces, however undecidable its status still is.

It is   harangued that Derrida is the “first major philosopher to philosophize about writing,” but what remains is that his Introduction relates writing in general to science in general, to scientificity. In his De la grammatologie Derrida phoned, collect call, back the Introduction, as happened in his La voix et le phénomène: Introduction au problème du signe dans la phenomenology de Husserl, as also in his L’écriture et la difference, all appearing 1967. 5 years later, in 1972, the insistence on writing and science, scientific writing, and writing science is still rather easy to trace, with La dissémination, Marges de la philosophie, and Positions. Entretiens avec Henri Ronse, Julia Kristeva, Jean-Louis Houdebin, Guy Scarpetta. Then, 5 more years: Limited Inc. After 1977, the imprints of Introduction surface in 1990, in Le problème de la gènese dans la philosophie de Husserl—actually Derrida’s 1954 Master’s thesis. After 1977, for the rest of his life, 27 years, Derrida never in insistence surfaced again with this insister of writing and science. Still, we shall see that many other works and texts allude to and trace the origin of his thought, an “origin” that self-referentially writes a fourth text.

If there is an irreducible and uncircumventable grammatology integral to science, a writing that is one of the sine qua non of science, a writing that constitutes both its conditions of possibility as well as impossibility, and so accounting for a wide array of internal contexts¾and such is our hypothesis here¾, then there is no reason either to assume that apparently extra-grammatological matters, such as experimental set-ups, devices of measurement and observation, laboratory equipment, etc., are exempt from the same graphematic structure as described for writing, for the gramma. We have here a double science, a doubly impossible science, a “scienci”—to mark the plural—that has its proper motivation in being strictly impossible, in search of what never was, is, will be the case. Derrida:

To think the unique within the system, to inscribe it there, such is the gesture of arche-writing: arche-violence, loss of the proper, of absolute proximity, of self-presence, in truth the loss of what has never taken place, of a self-presence which has never been given but only dreamed of and always already split, repeated, incapable of appearing to itself except in its own disappearance. “The Battle of Proper Names,” p. 79.

“Incapable of appearing to itself except in its own disappearing”: such is no less applicable to science in general—when, that is, grammatology resides inside science in general,  a graphematics internal to the very conception of scientificity, and when even the non-grammatological is no less marked by the same graphematical logic. In this sense it is not fortuitous that so many philosophical investigations has had recourse to the transcendental (what must be the case iff X is to be possible, assuming this possible already is witnessed as sufficiently actual and factual) rather than the real; in those other cases where one has attempted a more immanent conception, transcendentality is never far away anyway.

To make science one needs to depart from the real and operate within a transcendental machinery as if this latter paralleled the real; a conception of the parallel and parallelity, is always part and parcel of any viable conception of science. If scientists themselves—iff, then—are not into such games, it is not because they are more enlightened than philosophers, that they have realized, almost without reflection and critique what the latter are hopelessly distant from, but because they are practically engaged, situated and consummated in concrete operations that would suffer if scientists were to start reflect on their own activities. We shall see just how critically important this transcendental field is made in Derrida’s scrupulous Husserl-readings, and what are the functions of a certain metaphysical parallelism.

Besides, it can hardly be denied that scientists more and more operate within highly sophisticated simulation machineries, situated internal, so to speak, the very transcendental realm, so outspokenly thematized, with explicit address to science and its workings, from Kant on. Baudrillard is already dated, since for more than 200 years ago the transcendental and the simulacra was systematically launched, through Kant, as the very program for any future understanding of the coming of the real. Husserl, for instance, struggles with having the real and the transcendental “parallel,” and through phenomenological reductions have the parallel approach a certain “nothing.” Only a certain nothing can sanction that knowledge, meaning, and truth are not tainted, contaminated, and thus jeopardized by an unknown third. The closer to nothing this parallel is, the better the prospects of science, knowledge, and sense. But this ‘nothing,’ what is it? Is it of ontology? Or is it rather of grammatology?

When through the simulation machine one believes in the nothing, the presumed exact parallel of nothing, what will happen to and what becomes of the real? What happens to our concerns if, first the insemination of a transcendental field into the reality of whatever is made, and then only a certain proper nothingness can relate transcendence and real? What happens to the transcendental itself when supported by a nothing? And inversely, what happens to this nothingness as soon as it is instituted as what alone can ensure transcendentality its commanding functions relative reality? How to avoid contaminations? How to avoid a viral logic threatening to forever make the foundations of scintificity tremble, how to avoid a solicitation of science, one paralleling Derrida’s already accomplished solicitation of philosophy? Such is our main problem: is not science, too, subject to deconstructive solicitations, where the entire edifice of scientificity as such trembles in its entirety? This is surely not only a purely theoretical problem, to be solved solely on basis of internal theoretical critique and means; the real itself, qua subject to techno-science, abounds with salient very empirical indications that our conceptions of the very sine qua non arche-conditions of scientificity, such as meaning, knowledge, adequacy, and truth, are undergoing a terrible mutation.

The irreal of Husserl is the proper name of ideal objectivity; any ideal objectivity, be it of science or otherwise, must not partake in the real is it to constitute itself. The nothing ensures this. For ideal objectivity to be constituted it must be indefinitely repeatable, traversing any context and consciousness and historical succession as the same, the only difference being that of a presumed pure repetition. The ideal objectivity that scientificity requires to keep its conception intact, is thus maintained by the category of the irreal; only the irreal, separated from the real by only a certain nothing, can guarantee the meaning of truth and the truth of meaning.

The nothing does not only institute the split between transcendental and real; it also works as the door-keeper between the realms of the real and the irreal. Nothing thus is of an absolutely vital and critical character. Without the absolute distinction of purity, and pure difference between the two globes, the whole edifice of classic scientificity would collapse. Nothing is what mediates being and truth, according to the criteria of scientificity.

A repetition without difference except for the repeating act: such is the irreal of ideal objectivity. Ideal objectivity need be repeatable to at all enabling traditionalizing. The irreal—which ensures the phenomenologist the transcendental gaze and reduction, and which enables science in general, since without it we would be enmeshed in a mass of senses—is inserted into the real (but where?) as differences that are identical in that they add or remove nothing from the sense, the meaning, the objectivity it is supposed to deliver. Repetition appears in the irreal as the vehicle that transports meaning across the registers of time and space, as external necessity, as if the real needed to split itself to gather itself back through parallel universes: Hegel is never far away from such a scheme.

The necessary parallelism, which amounts to nothing, constitutes the lever from which truth sets out,from which it takes measure of itself and the real. If the parallel amounted to something, positive or negative, scientificity would succumb and self-destruct due to the surplus charge of three unknowns. The nothing simulates an ontology where the pure parallelism¾pure by virtue of being nothing, precisely¾enables only one unknown that now all of a sudden is sure of its end. The real will have to find its end in duplicating what, viz. transcendentality, started out as a complete unknown. Nothing thus enters real history to force its way.

If now the vehicle—writing—is not innocent, is not without its own effects, is not without production and alteration, then nothing could ever secure the real and the irreal their parallel. The recurrent attempted securing of the system through recourse to, as postulation of, regulative ideas, in the Kantian sense or whatever, will change nothing. With not one agency, but a multitude, all of which creates new multitudes, writing constitutes the impossibility and the “dreamability” and perhaps even desirability of any structural system. Writing is part of that structurality within structure in general that always already “destinerrances” structure to otherwise. The letter never returns; the always open possibility that the letter may always not return or reach its destination, arrive there properly, is what makes even the felicitous returns and arrives destinerrant. This is of internal contextuality, clearly. No political party, no science, no amount of capital can change this, only constitute the eternal recurrence of just another Don Quixote. Wiser is to figure out how it is that scientific meaning, or ideality, is “grammageneous,” and how it impacts the writing on science, such as this text, writings in science, and the writing of science, how it inscribes itself on nature, through grammas as text in the narrow meaning and through a logic of grammas that pertain no less to instruments, labarotories, reactors, fields, observations, experimental set-ups, vacuum pumps, etc.

Husserl and Heidegger share a sense of crisis, a crisis redeemable by genealogical acts of uncovering layers, acts of remembrance and reactivation, finding the authentic origin from which alone crises can be foreclosed, where the tube of the telos is cleansed for decay and noise, ensuring the best possible means of diatemporal communication. The teleontological future anterior is at work here. This is philosophy as archaeology: an archaeology that believes the truth lies in a distant, buried, forgotten past; strange this figure of radicalism combined with a running teleology that never looks back. What will be its distance, its gap? Derrida enters as the pharmakon, a retrovirus: there is a remedy but only on the condition that there will be more writing: writing as inflation itself, defined such in De la grammatologie. What happens to archeo-philosophy, and a fortiori science, as soon as indication is acknowledged irreducible and even constitutive of the very possibility of philosophy and science? How to decipher “layers,” Schichten? It seems here that layers, despite their character of being indicative, sometimes are able to neutralize the potentially ever-present danger of indicalitity: they are what secure the transmission, communication, the traditionalization of the knowledge. Origin in history, carefully reducing the layers of tradition, is for Husserl, or Heidegger for that matter, what can save us, and heal the crisis of Europe, give sense back to philosophy and science¾and responsibility¾alike. The paradigm of responsibility invests in a past to be kept intact, in keeping the telephone between a distinct past and any present be it in its very presencing or of what is to come, what still remains to come. What if, now, the origin is more of Plato’s khōra in Timaeus? It is not fortuitous that Derrida will take up khōra to treatment.

Grammatology as the impossible science of writing will, insofar as writing is internal to and constitutive of science¾the scientific history and tradition and the very mediation of science, as a collective endeavour¾already disclose an a-scientific moment, irreducible and universal, within science itself, a fact that in itself makes many conceptions of science rather dubitable, and a fact that is not without substantial consequences for the very enterprise and act of science. Writing, inasmuch as Derrida’s conceptions of writing are tenable in scientific contexts no less than other contexts, is what without which science would not even establish itself; at the same time it will always threaten any identity, be it of science or otherwise. Its contextual character is never simply external, however; it renders the very concept of context aporetic, unstable. Now, writing is only one of numerous internal contexts in science.

Internal contexts are never simply internal to science, since they are shared by many other human and non-human endeavours and occurrences; they are never simply contextual, either, a con-text, something that comes with, in addition as a surrounding or as a setting or scene to, science. An internal context¾‘texere,’ ‘to weave’¾is not a weaving together, does not favour a community of the cum, simply, not an indifferent hospitality of gathering. Contextuality is not something outside the event, the occurrence, the fact, the thing, but rather internal to the very possibility of anything that happens, appear. As it said that deconstruction is an event within the text. Internal contexts are a type of contexts that science cannot simply cut away, choose after its own desire, to add or bracket or disregard, etc., and therefore different from other types of contexts, such as cultural, historical, political, linguistic, economic, psychological¾all context types, all variable, which cannot be the crux of the science if science is to be what it wants to be. Internal contexts do not alter in time and place; they are structural and apply for all things that appear and exist. General iterability is but one example. The semiotic context: it is internal, structural, irreducible, constitutive, universal, at work everywhere and anytime something appears¾and a thing appears only if it reappears, the re-apparition without which one would not notice the thing. A thing is always already its double, and duplicable indefinitely. A thing appears only if it is iterable in general, necessarily incorporating death, absence, non-consciousness, différance, and all the other internal contexts we here address to science. Such iterativity is no less a characteristic of semiotics, semantics, linguistics, than other forms.

Science of writing is impossible; therefore, then, the question of the margins and the question as to science’s identity. The two questions on philosophy and science must be seen within the same common ground. And he has already acknowledged that there are things for which no science can provide a scientific object: grammatology, what flusters any scientificity. If now gramma is integral to science in general, what former was called writing¾changed due to increased elaboration¾, then this form of internal context is something that constitutes margins in the plural in the very insides of science. The 1971 “Signature Event Context” states that there is no “rigorous and scientific concept of context,” that the notions of context “conceal, behind a certain confusion, philosophical presuppositions of a very determinate nature.”[1] What will science communicate¾the “Signature Event Context” being delivered at a conference on communication¾without a scientific and rigorous concept of its contexts, and not only to its human readers, its scientific and non-scientific ones, but to its very milieu, its environment wherein it operates and gets its material? Derrida states further that ‘communication’ is not reducible to phenomena of meaning or signification, that it “opens up a semantic domain that precisely does not limit itself to semantics, semiotics, and even less to linguistics.”[2] What does science communicate, when it has no means of securing its contexts for their saturability, when even its very means of attempting to saturate its meanings and contexts, that is to say writing, constitutes an impossible grammatology at the heart of its undertakings? A gramma that in its constituting the very conditions of possibility of science, without which no scientific object or ideal objectivity, no ideality, no stable definition, could possibly appear, at the same moment propels irreducible conditions of impossibility that forces science’s late understanding of itself as of a “pragmatic” nature. Any regulative idea, be it in its classical idealist and rationalist telos or more of the modern pragmatic function, be it Kantian or otherwise, stands no chance against the structural lure of the gramma, the gramma that produces the non-saturability of contexts in general. When science therefore has renounced its former grandiose dreams, it is forced to test itself relative its real and concrete accomplishments. What gramma does, however, is that at the same time that it makes possible an accumulative history of science, it also thwarts accumulation itself; whatever that is to be accumulated is necessarily related to writing and being contextable¾and so it is to be graftable onto strictly unknowable future contexts, consciousnesses, interpretations, readings, performatives, quite simply an other which always already, and always already from future, constitutes others that will never be the other of science, science’s own other, a proper and neat outside against which science defines itself. There are certainly internal contexts in science. Science is perforated by internal contexts. And it is not something “thingly” that perforates, it is not a substance;’ internal contexts are not of ontology, not of the ti esti. Sec is an attempt to show why the determination of context “can never be entirely certain or saturated.” Non-saturation is said to be “structural.” Writing is something else than just a means of communication. That writing extends enormously the domain of oral or gestural communication, “indefinitely,” seems to presuppose “a sort of homogeneous space of communication.” Writing is thus a telecommunication means, a vehicle of meaning. According to its “currently accepted sense” the transmission takes place within a “medium that remains fundamentally continuous and self-identical, a homogeneous element through which the unity and wholeness of meaning would not be affected. Any alteration would therefore be accidental.” The system of that interpretation of writing is “peculiar and proper to philosophy,” not a “single counterexample can be found in the entire history of philosophy as such.” (Sec, 3) Derrida’s insertion of a certain absence risks introducing a break in the homogeneity of the system, a “break in presence,” and so not absence, as classically determined, as a “continuous and homogeneous reparation and modification of presence in the representation,” or absence simply as a modification of presence. (Sec, 5) As if a genetic derivation of the most complex edifice of representation, say, the “language of the most formal calculus,” from simple sensation and present perception, was simply possible. One cannot fail to see the pertinence of these tendencies in Derrida’s text to a critique of science. What happens to science as soon as one fails to grant truth to the successive chain of sign as representation of idea as representation of an object perceived? What happens to scientific observations? What will they henceforth refer to? What happens to the notion of referral and reference, not to say correspondence? What will science communicate to itself; will there ever be a scientific “itself”? Among the constituents of the “perforative”¾to play a bit with the ‘performative’¾is this certain Derridean absence, an absence that is not of any ontological ordeal since it is not recuperable as an ontological modification of presence, nor simply beyond ousia, epekeina tes ousias being just another notion invested and waged by the metaphysics of presence, its being a too clear-cut a notion, too fit to the needs of presence, too easy to handle, too pure.

In Sec (6) he also reminds us that the trace too, supplementary to absence, is to be read otherwise. A consistent mark of the Introduction already, the trace continued to be remarked, grafted onto ever new contexts and texts¾as I ask pardon to do here with regard to science and its internal contexts, its grammageneous sides.

For Husserl science always risks getting lost, losing sense, to the degree that science does not continually repair and reactivate its connection with the past originary constitutive act. Layers of sedimentation and tradition must be undone continually to avoid an orphan science devoured, by that very reason, to crises; phenomenology is the basic telecommunication means to reconnect science to its origin. Not fortuitous, then, that Husserl eventually will end meditate upon writing and its status regarding the possibility of science¾the very spot from where Derrida has his philosophical project commence. As we know, he will never consider his meditation on writing to have ended, affirmed time and again, indeed that his is a life-long meditation on writing. To Husserl the crisis was all about a science that no more communicated sense, having forgotten its own genesis, a genesis considered to be integral to sense in general; today the stakes are indefinitely higher. The scientific crises today are not a result of neglecting Husserlian warnings, since Husserl’s project was and is and will always be strictly unobtainable, an unrealistic, even naive belief, however shrewd its metaphysical touch. The telecommunication that indefinitely extends the power of communication of meaning is also what, at the same time, simultaneously, restricts, strictures, perforates, solicitates the whole architectonic of the scientific adventure. Accumulation of scientific ecodestructions is as undeniable, indubitable, as breakthroughs, progressions, and successes. Only metaphysics of the classic type, like the Husserlian transcendental phenomenology¾but I doubt that there is any counterexample to this¾, can still make reasonable for itself the strategy of dismissing eco-destructivity as only temporary, accidental, secondary effects of science, to be reduced given time, therefore properly describable as “side-effects.” As soon as classical metaphysics is solicitated science will lose its halo; this is the very significance of Derrida’s thought, that the refraction is subject to a unremittingly iterability for its very prefix re. That a post-classical metaphysics is tested against other notions, many of which in fact were of ethico-political stature, does not change

According to Derrida’s analysis, if the written sign is to retain any specificity whatsoever, the absence within the field of writing must be of an original type.

If perchance the predicate thus introduced to characterize the absence peculiar and proper to writing were to find itself no less appropriate to every species of sign and communication, the consequence would be a general shift; writing would no longer be one species of communication, and all the concepts to whose generality writing had been subordinated (including the concept itself qua meaning, idea or grasp of meaning and of idea, the concept of communication, of the sign, etc.) would appear to be noncritical, ill-formed, or destined, rather, to ensure the authority and the force of a certain historical discourse.[3]

Under the title of the etcetera we ascertain that many a scientifically relevant and pertinent concept is located. Science and its discourses would not be able to justify its exemption from the general shift propelled by the intervention of absolute absence into writing, an intervention which was there from the beginning, but which has had to await Derrida for its first systematic acknowledgement¾if not, then, we incorporate what the very environs of science have testified to during many a decade.

A written sign is proffered in the absence of the receiver. But with the absence that intervenes in writing it cannot be reduced to a mere distant presence, delayed, idealized in its representation; this distance, divergence, delay, this différance must be capable of being carried to a certain absoluteness if the structure of writing, assuming that writing exists, is to constitute itself.” At this point difference and deferral as writing can “no longer (be) an (ontological) modification of presence.”

If science has let go of what philosophy cannot, i.e. the quest for self-presence, it is still of presence, if not of self; as little as thought can, science can escape the strict necessity of presence. Science transgresses the self, through mathematics and other formal systems of notations, systems that discards the voice altogether, but it still needs the impersonalized scientist to be present, present his or her thought, his or her accomplishments, his or her failures, to have her or his results be present and presented to present consciousnesses, etc.; the reference to presence is irreducible. This a reminder to what we have called the super-presence of science, when its quest had presence explode time and space to reach all corners and borders.

Pinpointed is the desire for fullness, for a thorough penetration of matters, the ultimate securing of what accomplished in the living consumption of a voice that says what it thinks and knows and thinks and knows what it says, where accomplishments reaches perfect satisfaction by reason of its being lived in the very uttermost reaches of linear time, as if one wanted to ultimate by endless repetition, to reach the point where repetition is repetition of the identical, where the identical is repeated in an ever increasing speed, where the intervals are accordingly decreasing; a proper politics of speed. Science has, supposedly, transgressed such a desire, developing systems of notation that are breaching out of the circles of the phonocentric and the logocentric. According to Derrida such is not clear, however much science has been in the forefront to emancipate itself from phonē and presence. This drive of science is perhaps not only of complying to a Derridean consciously philosophy? One should not assume that science accomplished what Derrida, his thought, is the proper name of¾as if his thought simply was its aftermath mark, its representation, a philosophical mirror of what already accomplished in science. When science transgresses the polis, the “voicable” community, of the phonē and the logos, it is perhaps not so much to accomplish a deconstructive break as to bring phonocentrism and logocentrism to its conclusion, to its utter logic, where subjectivity vanishes on the horizon¾beyond the restriction it would be to have science subjective, individual. And this is what Derrida demonstrates in the Introduction.  When subject subsumes to community, when community subsumes to the ever-present voice of truth, true not for you or me, but for any possible, a par with the supra-temporal, then science is science and at rest.

The vanishing of subjectivity from science, when it becomes cosmopolitical, it approaches the Husserlian superspatiotemporal. It cannot stay satisfied with being subjective; it must be supersubjective if it is to obtain its end¾which is episteme through which to intervene in natural processes for certain practical purposes. Knowledge must be supersubjective if it is to efficiently intervene in the real. To this end writing is necessary; it extends communication and knowledge indefinitely through its teletechnological logic. But subjective and dialectical logos were a necessary step towards the belief in the supersubjective possibility of science; and as writing ensures the superspatiotemporal it ensures no less the supersubjective. Derrida names this the subjectless transcendentality of writing.

The testing of science, its corroboration and falsification apparatuses, are perhaps too narrowly confined to experimental set-ups and laboratories? How to define the frames then? But one may know a theory, axiom, operationally defined statements, or hypothesis to be refuted if enduring experience, after the scientific testing confined to well-defined surroundings, produces destructive, that is to say, non-wanted, non-intentional effects. Not only effects it didn’t foresee but effects of which are agreed to be clearly undesirable. Weber’s discussion of Lacan and Derrida is tracking an interesting line of thought to us here. Not only the items of writing are graftable, iterable, quotable, different, disseminative, supplementative, and so forth; however operationally defined and secured the scientific experiments are, however much corroborated in the laboratory, however much not falsified in there, all scientific notions as well as observations, apparatuses, measurements, etc., are just as iterable, graftable, etc. Is this was not already is known in the cultures of science? An experiment is not scientific unless it can be repeated. The results of an experiment must transgress the subjective and so yield the same result to all subjects who undertake the same experiment; it must be falsifiable, etc. This has clearly to do with contexts, internal contexts. Unique and model: the example to traverse all subjects irrespective of their subjectivity: it must make the same stamp in all past, present, and future scientific subjects. This is where science reveals its dogmas, its “Platonism.” Obviously, this call for much the same analysis of science in general as Derrida undertook of Husserl: the thought must be thought through even how much it leaves us with an irreducible aporetics. In science, if we love science, we must respect it so much that we don’t simply contend ourselves with what is pleasant to our expectations, dreams, and desires. A text leaves its hand and is abandoned to future interpretations of which nothing can be said; the same is no less true for the scientific experiment. As soon as it is undertaken, its results obtained, it is abandoned to future interpretations none of which will ever be the same. The operationally defined variables, the fine-tuned calibration of instruments and apparatuses, the rigorous use of logical operators, its modest statements, all this that is thought to secure the supersubjective and superspatiotemporal and –spatial, all this that points towards the ideal Objectivity, the truth, be it in Platonic or pragmatic terms, all this has its past counterpart in certain treatments in philosophy given to the conditions of language: we have named it logic: an experiment may be as identical as syllables on paper, but science, too, leaves the operationally defined games of paper. And as we know, as for linguistic, semiotic, even grammatological matters, it is an impossible undertaking, structurally impossible, produced by a structure that no less impels us, propels us, to endlessly repeat the impossible. Science is split a priori¾no less than the sign. This split is what today is manufacturing the blizzard on our retinas, where Freud’s postulations of a death drive relative the wars and the cruelties he witnessed is little compared to the destructivity we now witness: it is no longer confined to the political, cultural, economical realms: it integrates nature in general, the fundamental conditions of life. Auschwitz, the atom bomb, terrorism: small signs of what comes in the wake of ecodestruction. While the former are local, and restricted spatio-temporally, in this or that way, ecodestructivity is generalized and know no borders, is applied wherever whenever whomever whatever. We all participate in this; there is no clear victim and aggressor. The local incidences of human destructivity are offering the possibility of nice and neat binarities, judgements. If science is to keep its noble status as the uncompromised quest for the truth of existence irrespective this or that particular interest¾did not Hitler ask for whom this or that scientific undertaking was so as to point to its irreducible subjectivity and interestedness, to compromise its dignity?¾it needs to research into its own possible destructive motivations, a research for which there should be plenty of already existing facts witnessed globally. If, that is, it is to survive; precisely what is threatened, as science more and more comply to the Hitlerian description as merely a matter of the power of the for whom and what the research is undertaken. Abundant facts of which testifies to immense contradictions, aporetics, internal to science, producing destructive effects hitherto unheard-of in practically speaking all the registers of nature can no longer be neglected is science to continue to be what it aspires to. And the degree to which such is not happening we must conclude that politically, economically and otherwise motivated forces within science is wilfully and intentionally putting such concerns of science off; internal contexts may yield destructive results if not observed and admitted and researched into, but they need not. We have no reason for such a strong proposition. Method advises us to the more modest.

When grammatology is contaminating the internal and the external the only steady result is the impossible. If deconstruction is the experience of the impossible, it will contaminate any science, through the grammatology of both its incircumventable need for semiotics and all its presumed extra-semiotic conditions. Writing science is not only about legible texts communicating between learned and novice, but also that writing that even a mere apparatus of measurement constitute. Calibration, e.g., is a process whereby one tries to define the common instrument from which further experiments and further science cannot do without.

Everything begins in the folds of citation […] The inside of the text will always have been outside of it, in what seems to be serving as the ‘means’ toward the ‘work’. This ‘reciprocal contamination of the work and the means’ poisons the inside, the body proper of what was once called the ‘work’, just as it poisons the texts which are cited to appear and which one would have liked to keep safe from this violent expatriation, this uprooting abstraction that wrenches them out of the security of their original context […] To try to resist the removal of a textual member from its context is to want to remain protected against this writing poison. It is to want at all costs, to maintain the boundary line between the inside and the outside of a context.[4]

Graft…….Husserl would say that philosophy is indeed a science. But he would make a certain distinction within the conception of science: there are exact sciences, and there are rigoroussciences, the latter being philosophical disciplines. The exact sciences are exact because they operate with mathemes, i.e. mathematical symbols all of which, due to they being operationalizable and quantifiable, issues exact statements. The fact that philosophy is bound to linguistic signs implies lack of exactitude. But it can and should be rigorous, as stated in his famous “Philosophy as Rigorous Science.” There are other schools as well that would claim scientificity for philosophy.

But one should problematize the notion according to which science produces facts. Even if science operates with mathemes it is still, and irreducibly so, linked to linguistics: mathematical statements, too, are in need of interpretation that occurs in an individual mind soon scattered and communicated to a scientific community. Within scientificity in general there is an irreducible layer of grammatology, which itself is not, or is something else than, science. Be it linguistic sign, matheme, philosopheme, or whatever type of symbol, it is always already gramma: a cut, an incision, a differentiated/differentiating mark that for its survival or traditionalization mustbe iterable in general. Iteration means both repetition and difference. As soon as there are grammas there is repetition, enabling identity and stabilization of meaning, and thus the gramma enables building knowledge that can be traditionalized, which is to say disseminated throughout time and space. Their being iterable in general means, however, also that the gramma in question can be iterated in any context whatsoever, independently of individual consciousnesses and intentions, particular historical contexts, paradigms, and sets. This means that the totally undecidable and open horizon of the gramma in general also produces differences. This should strike no one as strange: a quick glance at the history of science or philosophy reveals that indeed the building of stable meaning is never assured. The reason is obviously that the nature of gramma is such that it never can be fully saturated.

In my own work I stress the need for more research into not only the old Kantian investigation into conditions of possibility of knowledge, but, and this is much more potent, and the lack of which indicates a lessening of scientificity itself, conditions of impossibility of knowledge.

Derrida’s grammatology provides, I think, the key to such work. Grammas are something double, that makes knowledge possible, but also impossible. A quick glance at recent trends in ecohistory certainly tells us that science is not simply seamlessly integrating itself into the supposed mechanisms of nature; in fact, it reveals in the most uncanny way a certain split that seems only to grow and widen: on the one hand, we have the undeniable fact of scientific progresses and successes, and this has its reason, of course, in the steadily bettering of scientific conditions such as methods, measuring devices, logical understanding, calibration procedures, etc. There we see that increased investment yields results. But on the other hand, we do see equally undeniably a certain ecodestruction, on all levels (micro, meso, macro), to an increasing degree, producing disturbances and destructions an increasing degree of which are acknowledged to be irreversible!

What is strange, however, is the belief that science produces sure knowledge and that philosophy is lofty guess work.


[1] Jacques Derrida, Limited Inc, trans. Samuel Weber & Jeffrey Mehlman (Northwestern University Press, 1997), p. 3. “Sec” was first delivered at a conference on the theme “Communication” held by the Congrès iinternationel des Sociétés de philosophie de langue francaise, in Montreal, August 1971.

[2] Ibid, p. 1.

[3] “Signature Event Context,” p. 7.

[4] Dissemination, p. 316.

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