در این مقاله تفسیر و خوانشی از متن مهم دریدا دربارهی استعاره با عنوان «اسطوره شناسی سفید: استعاره در متن فلسفه» ارائه شده است. دریدا در این متن به مواجههی فلسفه با استعاره به منزلهی امری بیرونی نسبت به خود پرداخته و نتیجه گرفته است که فلسفه گرایش به درونی سازی هر امر بیرونی دارد. فلسفه با امر استعاری به عنوان چیزی برخورد کرده که باید بر آن تسلط پیدا کند. نتیجه این است که، وقتی در خود فلسفه استعاره را جستجو میکنیم، نه با خودِ استعاره، که با مفهوم استعاره مواجه میشویم. استعاره در متن فلسفه، استعارهی فلسفی است. در نهایت دریدا از استعارهی استعاره، حرکت بی پایان استعاره، و استعارهی نامحدود به عنوان حقیقت استعاره سخن میگوید. دریدا در «اسطورهشناسی سفید: استعاره در متن فلسفه»، مقاله ای مستقل که در کتاب حواشی فلسفه منتشر شده است، به جایگاه ریشهای استعاره در متون فلسفی میپردازد و بنابراین نسبتی اساسی را میان مفهوم به عنوان ابزار فلسفه و استعاره که ابزار ادبیات تلقی میشود برقرار میسازد. فلسفه با امر استعاری به عنوان چیزی برخورد کرده که باید بر آن تسلط پیدا کند. نتیجه این است که، وقتی در خود فلسفه استعاره را جستجو میکنیم، نه با خودِ استعاره، که با مفهوم استعاره مواجه میشویم. استعاره در متن فلسفه، استعارهی فلسفی است. از نظر دریدا، استعاره، در تمام خصایص ذاتیاش، یک واژهی فلسفی کلاسیک، یک مفهوم متافیزیکی، باقی میماند.
عنوان مقاله [English]
Concept and Metaphor in Derrida
In this paper I provide a reading of Derrida's seminal text, "White Mythology: Metaphor in the Text of Philosophy". In this text, Derrida deals with the encounter between philosophy and metaphor as an external element to philosophy. The conclusion is that Philosophy tends to internalize any external element. Philosophy considers metaphor as something ought to be subjected. Therefore, when one searches for the metaphor in philosophy, what he or she finds not the metaphor itself, but the concept of metaphor? Metaphor in the text of philosophy is the philosophical metaphor. Derrida at the end discusses the metaphor of metaphor, the tireless metaphorical movement, and unlimited metaphor as the truth of metaphor. Philosopher during its history always considers metaphors as something to be subjugated and controlled. So, metaphor in the text of philosophy is the concept of metaphor, not metaphor in itself, which according to Derrida, pure dissemination. In this sense, the origin of concepts is not conceptual.
Key words: Metaphor, Derrida, Dissemination, Aristotle, Proper Name
In this paper we provide a reading of Derrida's seminal text, "White Mythology: Metaphor in the Text of Philosophy" which deals with the encounter between philosophy and metaphoricity as its main outsider. Through an analysis of Derrida’s text and some reference to his sources, we would conclude that Philosophy tends to internalize any external element, including metaphoricity. Philosophy considers metaphor as something to be subjugated. Therefore, when one searches for the metaphor in philosophy, what he or she finds is not the metaphor itself, but the concept of metaphor.
Concept of metaphor
Metaphor in the text of philosophy is the philosophical metaphor, and not the literary one. Derrida at the end discusses the metaphor of metaphor, the tireless metaphorical movement, and unlimited metaphor as the truth of the concept of metaphor. During its history, philosophy always considers metaphors as something to be subjugated and controlled. Hence, metaphor in the text of philosophy is the concept of metaphor, not metaphor in itself, which is, according to Derrida, pure dissemination. A metaphor in itself is a material movement, the material production of concepts. In this sense, the origin of concepts is not conceptual, but rather a literary movement. Concepts as the elements of philosophy are just the result of something concrete and indeterminate, namely the metaphorical dissemination. It seems Derrida stands here against philosophy, but the case is that he redefines it, by taking metaphoricity as its central motor. Philosophy appears as the surface of a profound material movement of thought, which can be found in pure literature, in the work of mad literary figures such as Artaud or Mallarme. Even in the realm of mainstream philosophy, this literary movement (this madness) is tractable everywhere, from Plato to Nietzsche. Madness is the motor of reason.
Therefore, what Derrida does is applying a therapy on philosophy from within through revealing a tendency in philosophy to objectify and conceptualize what is its subject matter. The will in philosophy to conceptualize meets its limit in the case of metaphor as its subject matter, because in this case philosophy conceptualizes something which inherently evades conceptualization and objectification. It indicates a will which is never fully successful and this is why everywhere in the history of philosophy we can find a literary attitude instead of a full philosophical conceptuality. Each philosophical concept is the result of the will to conceptualization applying on a non-conceptualizable entity, or better, movement. Hence, what we find in the text of philosophy is the concept of metaphor, not the metaphor in itself and its pure form, but the concept of metaphor reveals the metaphoricity of concepts. Philosophy wants to overcome metaphor, but at the end of the day, it is the latter that invades the purity of the former. Therefore, instead of the concept of metaphor, Derrida introduces the metaphor of metaphor, which is not any more a concept, but rather a movement. The relation between concept and metaphor is like that of signified and signifier in Derrida’s early work. What is called signification is not any more under the governance of signified, as is in the classical structuralism, but rather it turns to be a movement from signifier to signifier, having the transcendental signified as eliminated. Transcendental signified is the concept as a halt in the movement of signification. What is the case here is not that the concept does not exist, but rather is the genetic movement of concept, how it comes into existence. Derrida performs a genealogy of concept, seeking its formation in the course of history, or rather in the course of the history of philosophy. Here, we can find a very good example of what is called deconstruction, useful to understand what Derrida does on other problematics, such as writing, being a book, nature and culture, etc.
2. Aristotle on Metaphor
Derrida demonstrates the will to conceptualization in philosophy through some references to Aristotle, specifically when he tends to reduce any polysemy into univocity. This tendency is called logos. This is the reign of proper name over philosophy and human thinking (and human as thinking animal) in general. Only things that have proper name exist. Without a proper name nothing is a thing, so it is nothing. This is the renouncement of plurality in general. Instead, Derrida brings forward the idea of a pure multiplicity in the idea of dissemination. It is the multiplicity of sense in a metaphorical movement. Everything is a metaphor as long as it is not reduced to a unity, to one entity with a proper name. Everything is a metaphor before gaining a name. Neither human beings nor their language begins with the unity of proper names. In the beginning is not logos but rather the multiplicity of metaphors, or dissemination. The latter is the original move, the original sin. Having several meanings is just having no meaning. And having infinitely many meanings is the original sin! But history changed this story by saying that everyone and everything has just one thing to say, namely logos. The unity of logos used to stand against the plurality of dissemination. This is the birth of logic and its governance over thinking. Before the governance of logic thinking was vivid, with the multiplication of metaphors as its motor.
The whole story is about the source of organizations. In a Platonic and Aristotelian view, organizations are pre-established patterns governing the creation of being. Derrida changes the story by claiming that organizations are just the results of the original movement of dissemination which is without any pre-existing organization. Grammar for example is the law of making correct phrases, but the result of an accidental formation of phrases. Grammar would be different if the historical speakers of a language could put the words together in a different way, and they really could, and it is also the case about the formation of a word through putting voices together. Therefore, metaphoricity is the original accident, the original accidental movement that produces concepts and organizations. Human being is an animal who learned to think in the course of history.
- Aristotle (1924) Metaphysics, Translated by W. D. Ross, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Aristotle (2014) Poetics, Translated by Malcolm Heath, Pinguin Classics, New Edition.
- Derrida, J. (1982) “Wight Mythology: Metaphor in the Text of Philosophy” in Margins of Philosophy, translated by Alan Bass, The University of Chicago.
- Heidegger, M. (1957) Der Satz vom Grund, Pfullingen, Neske 1957.
- Louis, Pierre (1945) Les Métaphores de Platon, Paris,‘Les Belles Lettres.