Derrida writes in "La Différance," in Margins of Philosophy, "For the middle voice, a certain nontransitivity, may be what philosophy, at its outset, distributed into an active and a passive voice, thereby constituting itself by means of this repression" (9).
How is such a philosophical middle voice articulated? The verbal reflexivity of the middle voice is what Derrida refers to as the "double play" of writing with both hands, in an interview with Henri Ronse, "... marked in certain decisive places by an erasure which allows what it obliterates to be read, violently inscribing within the text that which attempted to govern it from without" (Positions, 6). Middle voice allows what is put under erasure, sous rature, which would otherwise not be able to be read to be read, not by a governance of an active principle, but by what Derrida calls a “violent inscription within the text.” What captivates Derrida's imagination is the middle voice is neither active nor is it passive. To philosophize actively is to think from without, and to philosophize passively is to think from within. Is philosophy, then, done in the between?
I think an interpretation of Derrida's method is sometimes misconstrued at this juncture. Binary oppositions, which could characteristically take an active principle or a passive one, do not combine to form a radically different concept. Derrida's method of deconstruction is not a dialectic, where a positive force meets a negative force and in a production of transformation new knowledge is produced. Philosophy has manifested itself in this way, and in another way, so has psychoanalysis. In the middle voice mood, a third term is not produced, distributed, or mediated between the first two. A third term is not mediated, but the difference between the two collapses and a third term is not possible. This is what Derrida means by “putting under erasure.” To speak of différance is to think of it in quotes, as a structure that does not govern from an active principle without, as an external authority, nor is it to be thought of as an internal structure, within. To think of différance is to think of it provisionally.
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