published on November 5, 2016
Juan Manuel Garrido
From Ideality to Historicity, What Happens?
The Problem of the Origin of Geometry in the Formation of Derrida’s Early Conception of History
The problem of the origin of geometry is crucial for understanding the formation and development of Derrida’s early conception of historicity. Mathematical idealities offer the most powerful example of meanings that are fully transmissible through history. Against Husserl’s explanation of the particular, Derrida considers that the logic and progression of mathematical idealities can only be explained if they are referred to non-intentional and pre-subjective movements of production and development of significations: language itself, which is structured as non-phonetic writing. Historicity is, to Derrida’s eyes, the non-intentional and non-present structure at work in the formation and transmission of meaning. Therefore, pure transmissibility of meaning is an essentially equivocal and creative process. However, Derrida’s analyses fail at understanding the logic of mathematical progression. He explains it by generalizing consciousness’ inner temporality to what he describes as being the “dialecticity” of non-present temporal modes (retention - protention). But the dialecticity of mathematical concepts is not reducible to the dialecticity of temporal modes of experience. We cannot characterize the pre-intentional conditions of historicity if we put into brackets the concrete field in which history becomes factual, i.e. in which meaning and appearing actually historialize: the effective progression of objects.