Derrida: Writing came before speech LO16758

Dr. Steve Eskow (
Thu, 29 Jan 1998 11:42:41 -0500

Replying to LO16730

Subject: Derrida and the French "decons": Writing came before speech

In his intriguing message At assumes, as do most of us, that speech is the
natural and first form of human communication, and writing came later, and
records what comes to us first in the form of speech.

I'm not sure if the so-called "deconstructionists" have yet had any impact
on the "learning organization" movement, but they certainly have been
changing the theory and practice of philosophy, literary criticism, and
other academic disciplines.

Jacques Derrida, who coined the term "deconstruction," maintains that
writing precedes speech, which certainly seems counterintuitive.

He means by "writing" something other and more than the usual meaning and
use of the word.

Freudian analysis illustrates his use.

The culture and experience in any culture, including preliterate culture,
"write" their messages on the group and on the individual psyche, leaving
"traces," as in dreams.

Speech reads these writings and turns them into orality.

Sometimes the "writings" are difficult to "read," to decipher, as in
figuring out what dreams mean.

The job of the therapist becomes using speech to explore the writings that
are dreams, and decode them: turn the dream writing into speech.

Don't know if there is any value in all that to "learning organization"
theory and practice: I'll leave that for all of my colleagues here to

Steve Eskow

Dr. Steve Eskow
President, The Electronic University Network
288 Stone Island Road
Enterprise, Florida 32725
Phone: 407-321-8770; Fax: 407-321-4861

-----Original Message-----
>Steve, what you have written, reminds me of Wittgenstein. He has
>concluded, after a full life of enquiry into human rationality, that we
>cannot escape the fact that we are creatures who have to think rationally
>by using languages.


"Dr. Steve Eskow" <>

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