Writing and Difference – Jacques Derrida (1967)

1960s: Days of Rage


“‘Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences’ (French: La structure, le signe et le jeu dans le discours des sciences humaines) was a lecture presented at Johns Hopkins University on 21 October 1966 by philosopher Jacques Derrida. The lecture was then published in 1967 as chapter ten of Writing and Difference (French: L’écriture et la différence). ‘Structure, Sign, and Play’ identifies a tendency for philosophers to denounce each other for relying on problematic discourse, and argues that this reliance is to some degree inevitable because we can only write in the language we inherit. Discussing the anthropology of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Derrida argues that we are all bricoleurs, creative thinkers who must use the tools we find around us. Although presented at a conference intended to popularize structuralism, the lecture is widely cited as the starting point…

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