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By Hugh J. Silverman (ed.)

Numerous modern philosophers provide an overview of Derrida's account of the complete variety of Western concept, from Plato to Foucault. features a accomplished bibliography of books by way of and on Derrida in English. This publication might be of curiosity to complex scholars of literature, philosophy and demanding conception.

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Sample text

As Descartes himself later admits in the Second Meditation, ‘I am, I exist, is necessarily true each time that I pronounce it, or that I mentally conceive it’ (HR, I, p. 150), indicating an implicit recognition of the instrumentality of language. Going back to our analysis of the status of madness in the Cartesian text, it becomes clear that Descartes does not need to feign madness in order to ‘dispossess’ himself of his body, as Foucault claims, but can be through his feint in the Discourse more mad than madness itself, since he can represent himself as not having a body, there not being a world, and so forth.

At issue is far more than the question of interpretation of the Cartesian text. 1 If, for Foucault, Descartes’s exclusion of madness is instrumental in the foundation of reason, for Derrida, madness and dreams are merely stages for the introduction of hyperbolic doubt, which through its figurative function generates an excess that comes to define subjectivity in terms of a rational economy. Whereas for Foucault subjectivity is defined through a gesture of exclusion, the constitution of an exteriority, that founds through its muted silence the possibility of reason, for Derrida, reason is constituted obversely through the production of an excess whose totality 39 40 CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY II engenders the reflexive play of reason and its liminal definition as economy.

Like them, it is the expression of the problematic character of representation: its metaphorical, deceptive, and trompel’oeilcharacter. 6 If Descartes reassures himself through his own representation against any actual madness, in ‘the language of fiction or the fiction of language’ to use Derrida’s terms (WD, p. 54), this form of validation is not accounted for in his own text, since it is clear that this very language, as Derrida suggests, menaces the interiority of thought and threatens to colonize it not with the madness associated with the body and dreams, but with the far more pervasive madness of the decentering power of metaphor.

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