Volume 9, Issue 2, Spring 2005
Special Issue: The Ancient Philosophy Society
Language Between Voice and Writing
On Philosophy as Deconstruction and Dialectic
This paper is concerned with the relationship between philosophy and rhetoric. It argues that philosophical claims are bound to language, and yet philosophy’s
claim to objective clarity is meaningless if language is radically perspectival. The paper attempts to show the limitations and possibilities that Platonic dialectics and Derridean deconstruction share in their respective approaches to the analysis of language and the relationship between speech and writing. The paper concludes that language is ambiguous, neither reducible to the relativism of sophistry nor to the essentialism of metaphysics. Against Derrida, the paper argues that without structure, voice is not language; it renders only inarticulate sounds. Yet in speaking, this structural aspect gets taken for granted and passed over. Only when language is established in writing is the possibility of voice first recognized.