Derrida and meaning : the problem of authorial intention : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English at Massey University

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Massey University
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This thesis examines Jacques Derrida's deconstructive critique of the logocentric concept of meaning and.proposes that Derrida's critique maintains the importance of authorial intention for literary critical practice. Derrida's critique of 'meaning' entails a situating of authorial intention as that which, while of importance to a critical reading, is incapable of absolutely determining the 'meaning' of the text. The introduction gives a brief sketch of the importance of authorial intention in modern literary theory. Chapter One articulates Derrida's critique of Saussure's concept of the sign, showing how such a critique entails a questioning of any meaning beyond the series of differences which is language. Chapter Two demonstrates how Derrida's deconstructive reading of Rousseau in the latter half of Of Grammatology situates Rousseau's intention as that which is incapable of fully determining the meaning of his "Essay on the Origin of Languages", due to the undecidable meaning of the word 'supplement'. The third and final chapter is concerned with Derrida's postulation of the 'graphematic structure of the mark' as that which characterises all forms of speech and writing, as well as the structure of intention. The 'graphematic structure of the mark' is seen by Derrida as being that which renders the concept of a fully closed and final 'meaning' a problematical one due to the mark's ability to be grafted from one context into another. The chapter ends with an account of the 'concept' of 'dissemination', and demonstrates how this concept differs from the traditional concept of 'meaning'.
Semantics (Philosophy), Criticism, Derrida, Jacques