Delimited Inc

The Afterword worked in interesting ways for me. It clarified and reiterated the key ideas and, in this sense, I don’t regret reading it. But it also reframed the tone of the entire rest of Limited Inc. It delimited certain concepts for me by changing the lens of reading and tethering Derrida’s text to a time and place more strongly than I believed was the *entire* point. What was once my eager excitement became something else. Maybe that’s the point --- as the Afterword goes on --- I feel like I was taught an object lesson that has smacked me in the face. What I enjoyed… what I read… it wasn’t star gazing- it’s never that far abstracted. We are all still standing on the same earth. But Violence? To have enjoyed so thoroughly, something which he calls VIOLENT – even to the point of using his text and discussion of iterability and separation from intent as a soft excuse to lift the ideas and contemplate them in different places and times, to experiment, and then to return to be told by Derrida: Stop. Consider. Delimit.

The ethic says read with charity - always be citing. But what about the rhetoricity of Derrida's piece? It too has a structure and a mark. If he would wish for another chance at the dialectic, his devices and humor - if not present - also affect the force and reading of this text and the social text. Polemics have their place. Would Searle have ever agreed to this reading even if Sec or Limited Inc were stylized or structured differently? The audience today is more important. The charity would not last or leave a mark.

Afterword: Toward An Ethic of Discussion

Derrida describes Limited Inc as Violent. Over and over and over. He describes Academic Discourse as violent. Does Derrida use this term to point towards a physical force, destroying Searle’s text, perhaps metaphorically? Or perhaps as extreme aggression? Or- (chastising myself here)- why can’t it be all, some, or none of the above? Perhaps I am most bothered and squeamish about the afterword because I *enjoyed* Limited Inc., I mean really enjoyed it. I laughed and reread certain sections just to motivate me to finish the harder parts of the text. All of this culminating in Derrida’s “certain uneasiness.”

Am I right to insist, even before beginning, on the debate itself, its possibility, its necessity, its style, its "ethics," its "polities"? You know, of course-many readers were doubtless struck by this-that what went on more than ten years ago around Sec and "Limited Inc . . ." concerned above all our experience of violence and of our relation to the law-everywhere, to be sure, but most directly in the way we discuss "among ourselves, " in the academic world. Of this violence, I tried at the time to say something. I also tried, at the same time, to do something.

what counts for me more today are all the symptoms that this polemical "scene" can still make legible. These symptoms amount to an invitation to decipher the rules, the conventions, the uses which dominate the academic space and the intellectual institutions in which we debate, with others but also with ourselves. With or without success, with a success that is always changing, these laws "contain" and thus also betray all sorts of violence.

They even render something else apparent: the delimitation of this field, were it to be interpreted naively in terms of a discussion held to be theoretical, disinterested, liberal, nonviolent, apolitical, would be the artifice of an untenable denial, the practical effect of scanty analysis and voracious interest. The violence, political or otherwise, at work in academic discussions or in intellectual discussions generally, must be acknowledged.

And if, as I believe, violence remains in fact (almost) ineradicable, its analysis and the most refined, ingenious account of its conditions will be the least violent gestures, perhaps even nonviolent, and in any case those which contribute most to transforming the legal-ethical-political rules: in the university and outside the university.

“not devoid of aggressivity” “distinguish and submit to analysis the brutality with which… Searle had read me, or rather avoided reading me and trying to understand.”

Two registers:
Classical philosophical discussion
Activity which reinforces the demonstration in a practical manner

A decision can only come into being in a space that exceeds the calculable program that would destroy all responsibility by transforming it into a programmable effect of determinate causes. There can be no moral or political responsibility without this trial and this passage by way of the undecidable.

Even if in "reality" or in "experience" everyone believes he knows that there is never "all or nothing," a concept determines itself only according to "all or nothing. " Even the concept of "difference of degree," the concept of relativity is, qua concept, determined according to the logic of all or nothing, of yes or no: differences of degree or nondifference of degree. It is impossible or illegitimate to form a philosophicalconcept outside this logic of all or nothing. But one can… think or deconstruct the concept of concept otherwise, think a difference which would be neither of nature nor of degree, and of which I say… that they are not entirely words or concepts.

Whenever one feels obliged to stop doing this (as happens to me when I speak of differance, of mark, of supplement, of iterability and of all they entail), it is better to make explicit in the most conceptual, rigorous, formalizing, and pedagogical manner possible the reasons one has for doing so, for thus changing the rules and the context of discourse.

I add a supplementary complication that calls for other concepts, for other thoughts beyond the concept and another form of "general theory," or rather another discourse, another "logic" that accounts for the impossibility of concluding such a "general theory.”

I try to show not only that the ideal purity of the distinctions proposed (by Searle, for example) is inaccessible, but also that its practice would necessitate excluding certain essential traits of what it claims to explain or describe-and yet cannot integrate into the "general theory.”

Like that of "differance" and several others, it is an aconceptual concept or another kind of concept, heterogeneous to the philosophical concept of the concept, a "concept" that marks both the possibility and the limit of all idealization and hence of all conceptualization.

it is not certain that what we call language or speech acts can ever be exhaustively determined by an entirely objective science or theory. It is more "scientific" to take this limit, if it is one, into account and to treat it as a point of departure for rethinking this or that received concept of "science" and of "objectivity.”

Such is the strange alogical logic of what I call "iterability." I hasten to add, for I am not certain that I said it clearly in "Limited Inc . . . ," that the concept of iterability itself, like all the concepts that form or deform themselves in its wake,3 is an ideal concept, to be sure, but also the concept that marks the essential and ideal limit of all pure idealization, the ideal concept of the limit of all idealization, and not the concept of non ideality (since it is also the concept of the possibility of ideality).

Those who wish to simplify at all costs and who raise a hue and cry about obscurity because they do not recognize the unclarity of their good old Aujklarung are in my eyes dangerous dogmatists and tedious obscurantists. No less dangerous (for instance, in politics) are those who wish to purify at all costs.

Signature Event Context

We will not assert this for the following reasons: 1) because the value of the notion of literal meaning [sens propre] appears more problematical than ever, and 2) because the value of displacement, of transport, etc., is precisely constitutive of the concept of metaphor with which one claims to comprehend the semantic displacement that is brought about from communication as a non-semiolinguistic phenomenon to communication as a semio-linguistic phenomenon.

I shall try to demonstrate why a context is never absolutely determinable, or rather, why its determination can never be entirely certain or saturated. This structural non-saturation would have a double effect…

I offer here the following two propositions or hypotheses: 1 ) since every sign, whether in the "language of action" or in articulated language (before even the intervention of writing in the classical sense), presupposes a certain absence (to be determined), the absence within the particular field of writing will have to be of an original type if one intends to grant any specificity whatsoever to the written sign;
2) if perchance the predicate thus introduced to characterize the absence peculiar and proper to writing were to find itself no less appropriate to every species of sign and of communication, the consequence would be a general shift;

What holds for the receiver holds also, for the same reasons, for the sender or the producer. To write is to produce a mark that will constitute a sort of machine which is productive in turn, and which my future disappearance will not, in principle, hinder in its functioning, offering things and itself to be read and to be rewritten.

Austin and Quoting: He insists on the fact that this possibility remains abnormal, parasitic, that it constitutes a kind of extenuation or agonized succumbing of language that we should strenuously distance ourselves from and resolutely ignore. And the concept of the "ordinary," thus of "ordinary language," to which he has recourse is clearly marked by this exclusion.

Rather than oppose citation or iteration to the noniteration of an event, one ought to construct a differential typology of forms of iteration, assuming that such a project is tenable and can result in an exhaustive program, a question I hold in abeyance here. In such a typology, the category of intention will not disappear; it will have its place, but from that place it will no longer be able to govern the entire scene and system of utterance [l'enonciation].

Very schematically: an opposition of metaphysical concepts (e.g., speech/ writing, presence/absence, etc.) is never the confrontation of two terms, but a hierarchy and the order of a subordination. Deconstruction cannot be restricted or immediately pass to a neutralization: it must, through a double gesture, a double science, a double writing-put into practice a reversal of the classical opposition and a general displacement of the system.

There is a labor-metaphysical or not-performed on conceptual systems. Deconstruction does not consist in moving from one concept to another, but in reversing and displacing a conceptual order as well as the nonconceptual order with which it is articulated.

Searle Summary Reiterating the Difference

we can "think of it as a sentence of English, weaned from all production or origin, putative or otherwise. But even then there is no getting away from intentionality, because a meaningful sentence is just a standing possibility of the corresponding (intentional) speech act" (p. 202, Searle's italics).

Limited Inc a b c…


But that John R. Searle should be so concerned with his copyright, for saying things that are obviously true, gives one pause to reflect upon the truth of the copyright and the copyright of the truth.

And it is true that I have occasionally had the feeling-to which I shall return--of having almost "dictated" this reply. “I” therefore feel obliged to claim my share of the copyright of the Reply. But who, me?


And finally, that confronted b y a Reply which exudes such confidence in the possibility of distinguishing "standard" from "nonstandard, " "serious" from "nonserious," "normal" from "abnormal, " "citation" from "non-citation, " "void" from "non-void," "literal" from "metaphoric," "parasitical, " from "non-parasitical, " etc. ,-faced with a Reply so serenely dogmatic in regard to the intention and the origin of an utterance or of a signature, I wanted, before all "serious" argument, to suggest that the terrain is slippery and shifting, mined and undermined. And that this ground is, by essence, an underground.


moreover, that it shall not (ever) take place, or at least not quite; and yet they produce it, this confrontation that they sought to avoid, that they declare to be non-existent without being able to stop themselves from participating in it, from confirming and developing the event through the very gesture of withdrawing from it.

This "never quite takes place," deported a bit beyond its initial, head-overheels aggressivity (Derrida never encountered Austin and would not have encountered him even had Austin been still alive!) is one of the gayest things I have ever read in a text that presents itself as being, if not philosophical, at least theoretical, and in any event as serious: seriously supposing itself to know all about the difference between the serious and the non-serious, to know what it means for events taking the form of apparently written speech acts to take place or not to take place…

In order to avoid the ponderousness of the scientific expression "three + n authors," I decide here and from this moment on to give the presumed and collective author of the Reply the French name " Societe a responsabilite limitee"-literally, " Society with Limited Responsibility" (or Limited Liability )-which is normally abbreviated to
Sarl. I ask that the translator leave this conventional expression in French and if necessary, that he explain things in a note. If this expression does not simply translate "Limited," "Incorporated," or "Limited Inc," it is not unrelated to those terms, for it pertains to the same legal-commercial context.

We are nothing more than "prete-noms," "borrowed names," straw men. In this simulated confrontation, we are "fronts"…



Rather, they will have constituted elements of that ensemble, parts of an open corpus, examples of events, to which all the questions and categories accredited by the theory of speech acts will still be applicable and reapplicable: whether or not they are performatives, in what measure and aspect they depend upon the per- or illocutionary, whether they are serious or not, normal or not, void or not, parasitic or not, fictional or not, citational or not, literary, philosophical, theatrical, oratorical, prophetical or not, etc.



They are situated beyond, around, beneath utterances that are apparently constative, but which through their gesture of "this is so and so" tend to produce determinate effects, often quite different from those apparently intended.

But the effect produced is the reverse. For my part, wherever and whenever I hear the words "it's true, " "it's false," "it's evident," "evidently this or that," or " in a fairly obvious way" (p. 204), I become suspicious. This is especially so when an adverb, apparently redundant, is used to reinforce the declaration.


Thus, Sarl did indeed understand. No question here of the essentials being misunderstood. Or rather, if "understanding" is still a notion dominated by the allegedly constative regime of theory or of philosophy, let us not use the word "understood," let us say instead that Sari was touched. That is, Sari has not been missed by the set, the ensemble of these misunderstandings, of these misstating missiles.


How is it possible to miss the point that Sec, from one end to the other, is concerned with the question of truth, with the system of values associated with it, repeating and altering that system, dividing and displacing it in accordance with the logical force of the iter, which "ties repetition to alterity" (Sec, p. 7)

Rather, I deconcentrate, and it is the secondary, eccentric, lateral, marginal, parasitic, borderline cases which are "important" to me and are a source of many things, such as pleasure, but also insight into the general functioning of a textual system.


I shall refer to this simply as from/to-Sec, thus designating a gesture which recurs regularly in the reply and consists in taking arguments borrowed from Sec [it Sec], as though there were nowhere else to turn, and changing them into objections to Sec [it Sec]. With the other hand.