Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 9, No 1 (2013)

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Speech, Writing, and Play in Gadamer and Derrida

Thorsten Botz-Bornstein


I revisit the Derrida-Gadamer debate in order to analyze more closely the problem of the foundation of reason and of interpretation. I explore the theme of play as a metaphor of non-foundation in both philosophers and analyze how both extract this quality from their readings of Plato’s Phaedrus. Does Derrida not essentialize the game by declaring that the playful experience of a Gadamerian dialogue must produce a metaphysical presence in the form of a hermeneutic intention? I find that the circular structure of understanding permits – for both philosophers – no clear signifiant either in speech or in writing. The game of interpretation produces – in changing endlessly between reading and rhetoric – an endless chain from one signifier to the next signifier without ever imitating a divine logos.

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