6. Hermeneutics and Deconstruction: Heidegger/Derrida; Heidegger’s Plato, Derrida’s Plato (b)
So, this is where the so-well known word deconstruction comes in. Obviously, when I say ‘well known’ I mean the word is well known. The word itself has taken on a life of its own in fact. We have deconstructed desserts, apparently, and my favourite is a demolition company called ‘deconstruction’. But as you can see, this is a binary form – as what is not construction. So it does not mean a breaking up which would be opposed to construction and it is not about tearing to pieces, rejecting, dispersing into nothing, etc. etc. etc.
To find out what it means, it’s worth having a quick and closer look at Derrida’s first real deconstruction, his study of Husserl. Derrid studied Husserl for around 12 years before publishing his very long ‘Introduction’ to Husserl’s much shorter The Origin of Geometry, so this is not just any example. He finds in Husserl a number of these hierarchies of opposites, but the main one is this, which we’ve already seen, between the self-present meanings of words, and the words themselves, which are signs of the meaning or ‘visible tokens of the meaning’ (the idea of a dog and the word ‘dog’).
But, Derrida notes, Husserl can’t manage (for all his trying) to keep the division between meanings and words firm and thus when Husserl tells us what a self-present meaning is (the idea of a dog), he says that it is a re-presentation of the idea in consciousness, in front of our “mind’s eye” but, Derrida says, ‘isn’t this already a kind of sign, a reference to something else, a presence which came before’? I.e. isn’t the idea ‘dog’ already standing in for something that’s not there, just like a word stands in for the idea that’s not there? In fact, the idea ‘dog’ is also a sign in this sense. Note here the radicalisation of Heidegger? For Heidegger, the Idea covers a presence – for Derrida it’s rather an absence. It veils, yes, but it veils nothing.
So what Derrida shows is that Husserl doesn’t manage to keep the distinction between meanings and words uncorrupted, and we can find a hint of absence already on the side of presence. Now, Derrida thinks this is ‘universally the case for all the oppositions that govern western metaphysics’. These hierarchies can never be maintained rigidly; however hard we try there’s always some contamination. So this is an example of deconstruction at work: the act of showing that a hierarchy between words and meanings is not pure and cannot be rigorously maintained. But this is really the outcome, not exactly the operation of deconstruction itself. Something else has to happen, according to Derrida, something else, but actually something new.
So, while all of this sounds quite technical in a way, there’s ultimately a very practical aspect to deconstruction, which is concerned with trying to create some movement, make something different happen from within the world as it stands. There needs to be an ‘intervention’, a new way of relating the terms of the hierarchy which does not fall back into the trap of the old hierarchy.
In the case of Husserl, Derrida proposes that we must think all words (signs) and meanings (ideas) in terms of a general system of interrelated signs. ‘A system which cannot be explained on the model of the old hierarchy, or on the model of the old idea of a sign (which always relates to a self-present idea which it represents)’. In other words, D offers a definition of the sign that Husserl’s system can’t explicitly cope with. As part of developing or showing this Derrida ‘juxtaposes the system of signs and meaning of Husserl with that operative in Joyce where the latter’s schematic interrupts and corrupts the former, using, of course, the same ‘signs’.’
Deconstruction involves two moments: a challenge (or reversal) and a displacement or creative movement. So, reverse the hierarchy, show how the self-presence of meanings is in fact structured in the same way that the apparently subordinated ‘word’ is and create a new way, insist that we must understand all language in new terms, as a total network of signs which refer endlessly to other signs.
I have to say that this is an essentially enlightenment project and not the fall of civilisation that some hysterical commentators imagine or that others, equally hysterical, hope for. This is where the idea of the text matters, for it is a finite collection of a network of signs such that we can study this relation in situ as it were. Deconstruction in Derrida embraces many different parts of life, not just ‘texts’ in the regular sense, but spoken language, institutions (like the university or marriage or friendship), the visual arts, music, architecture, etc.
In The Parergon he says: ‘It is because deconstruction interferes with solid structures, "material" institutions, and not only with discourses or signifying representations, that it is always distinct from an analysis or a "critique." And in order to be pertinent, deconstruction works as strictly as possible in that place where the supposedly "internal" order of the philosophical is articulated by (internal and external) necessity with the institutional conditions and forms of teaching.’
As noted, the impurities that deconstruction is engaged with are already going on in the ‘text’ themselves because this is the intimate ‘truth’ of metaphysics as such. Derrida’s claim about the metaphysics of presence is that it always undermines itself, so the disturbances produced by Derrida don’t need to be produced by a reader. The disturbances are already a (disavowed) structure of the text itself.
Over time, Derrida gives a series of different definitions of deconstruction. For example: ‘deconstruction is a certain experience of the impossible which is to say, while we live within these structures, and can’t escape them once and for all, there is always this potential for new ways of living and experiencing which result from the shifts in relationships, institutions, etc., so the ‘opening’ that is always there in metaphysical structures – the structures of, among other things, experience – is something that we can experience, a kind of promise of a movement beyond, one which never gets beyond in an absolute sense, but which can carry us beyond the present ‘state of affairs’.’ Another way to put it is that ‘deconstruction is a certain experience of the possibility of the future. Not a future which just follows on from what is already here, progress, but a totally new, unpredictable, unforeseeable future.’ ‘Deconstruction is a certain way of thinking about or experiencing here and now this opening towards the future which is witnessed in even the most closed up and repressive states of affairs.’ You can see surely that art, Plato’s most dangerous rival, would be a prime site for such an experience: of intervention, novation, invention etc. This is why Derrida is often speaking of ‘what is to come’; that deconstructions are an experience of this ‘what is to come.’
One more point. It cannot be reduced to critique. It is not about criticising contemporary structures. We’ve seen the reason for this already in passing, in that in order to criticise anything, you have to do so in the name of something else, from a certain point of view, on behalf of something. Such an act assumes the very thing in question: criticism always proceeds by setting up or using metaphysical hierarchies, he reckons. Derrida has nothing against being critical, which he thinks is extremely important but the goal of deconstruction is not to criticise or pull down philosophies per se but to come to grips with the ways in which their work is bound up with the, dare I say it, ever present hierarchies of metaphysics, and to show that there is also an intrinsic link to something else, some other possibility. And this brings us to the text.
Now, recall that for Derrida we must conceive not just words but also ideas as ‘signs’ in the sense that meanings also refer to experiences in the past, and thus are absent in relation to other presences. Ultimately, that we need to think about language – words and ideas – in terms of a general network of signs, that there is no present-to-self meaning, because it actually refers to another earlier instance … Now, this is a famous theme of Derrida’s, encapsulated in the infamous claim:
il n’y a pas de hors-texte, and elsewhere, il n’y a pas hors de texte
Ostensibly: there is nothing outside the text.
Of course, this too has suffered in the hands of detractors and acolytes alike. So let’s try to get at it. I will be using an exegesis borrowed from Jon Roffe.
‘I use the word ‘dog’. This sound or mark doesn’t mean anything itself. It refers to both an idea or meaning that I have when I utter it to give it meaning, but it refers also to other words in our language that go with it to give it meaning. The word ‘dog’ is not the word ‘dug’ or ‘pog’, for example, and it is used as a noun in English. So, for it’s meaning, the word ‘dog’ relates to both other words and to ideas: the word, or the sign, is a kind of absence propped up by other presences that it is related to. So, we move to the meaning of the word, or the idea of dog that I have in order to get things going.
No good here either: the idea of a dog is not self-present, because it refers to previous experiences of dogs, and to other ideas which the idea of a dog relates to: cats, my aunties pet, loyalty, childhood, etc. So there is no presence ultimately in an idea either, since it needs other ideas in order to mean anything at all. If you are sceptical, try to imagine having an idea that didn’t come from anywhere else, and had no relationship to any other idea that you’ve ever had? Or let’s try to say, against Derrida, that there are real dogs in the world. Thus even if our words, and our ideas or meanings when we speak, need to refer to some other presence in order to gain any meaning, real dogs seem to be a firm foundation, a presence in which the meaning of language can base itself. So the sign refers to a real thing actually in the world and only that thing – it corresponds!
But for Derrida, in order for the experience of a real dog in the world to mean anything to us, it must be as a part of a whole experience of the world. In other words there is no experience, that is, of a dog in-itself .A dog is what it is because it is also not something else. Again, imagine having an experience of a thing that had no relation to anything else in the world or in your past experience, something that had no resemblance or relation to anything else. Thus our experience of the ‘real world’ is in this sense like words and meanings – an experience always refers to other experiences, and our experience of a dog needs to be in relation to other elements of experience (the tv, the couch, the bone, their smell when wet etc.). (Roffe)
So, what Derrida wants to convince us of here is that presence, when you go looking for it, is nowhere to be found. ‘There are only traces of presence: a word is a trace of an idea, and of other words; an idea or meaning is a trace of other meanings or ideas, and a trace (a memory) of experience; an experience is a trace of other experiences, of other elements of experience.’ So now we can see what Derrida means by nothing outside the text: everything is just like a sign, like a word; there is no ultimate presence to which our words, thoughts, experiences refer – they just refer to other traces, and so it goes. There is nothing outside the text. Text is reality – reality being what we experience of the world as the world; know of the world as the world etc.
To use another couple of D’s famous words, this situation of meaning that is always deferred (every trace refers to an earlier trace, and so on) and differed (any one trace relies on other traces to give it meaning) is what he calls differance – with an a. At the root of all meaningful language and experience, there is only this movement of continual differal and displacement. Note it’s temporal and spatial. The noun differance is the ‘name’ Derrida gives to this non-foundational foundation of meaning in his famous paper by the same name (referred to by some as the sermon on the mount of deconstruction.)
Now to say a bit more about context in order to understand how these operations are specified as it were. So to the questions ‘how is the movement of the trace, differance, stopped, how do we get these metaphysical structures?’ Derrida answers that the movement is determined, frozen or relatively fixed in place by the context in which they take place. A basic example (again following Roffe): ‘the phrase “not again!” can take on a potentially limitless number of meanings, but when you are in the kitchen and you ruin the bouillabaisse for the third time the meaning of the phrase is fixed by the context. More complexly, think of certain ways of writing that you find in newspapers. There are certain genres proper to newspaper writings that provide the context for a piece of text. In some cases, then, a piece of out and out fiction, when placed in the context of a newspaper and its genres, can be conveyed with a force it would never have anywhere else.’
But context for Derrida is still broader again than all of this. ‘We need to think,’ Derrida tells us, ‘of historical context too, and the way in which this gives meaning to an event – say slaughter in war – absolute horror or an act of glory; or we can think spatial context too, in the case of architecture for example and of course the frame around the outside of a painting in relation to the painting itself?’ Or the context provided by the canvas or the apparently blank page. What, for instance, frames this particular painting (materially to be sure) but also: what frames the interpretation of the painting offered by a famous philosopher?
And cultural context too, political context etc. The frame is what delivers the context to its ‘outside’ so to speak. For example, he says: ‘Where does the frame take place. Does it take place. Where does it begin. Where does it end. What is its internal limit. It’s external limit. And its surface between the two limits. I do not know whether the passage in the third Critique where the parergon is defined is itself a parergon. Before deciding what is parergonal in a text which poses the question of the parergon, one has to know what a parergon is – at least, if there is any such thing.’
This is a good point to end this exegesis because Derrida asks a good Platonic question: what is X – is there such a thing? We need to immediately turn it back on Derrida: ‘what is metaphysics?’ And this specifically given Plato is the supposed instigator, and so the name Platonism acts as its synonym – one that has essentially lasted 2500 years and is assigned to his discourse. I know we have already seen what is metaphysics for Derrida but is what Derrida assigns to Plato as metaphysics, what is metaphysics for Plato – who never uses the term nor claims or asserts definitively at any time, the positivity of this schema assigned to him.
More than this, in fact, taking the dialogues seriously as method and not just text, there seems to be no such author as Plato – no authorisation for the epithet ‘Platonism’ at all, let alone the extension of it to metaphysics.
So to finish off, I want to touch very briefly on two things that problematise Derrida’s blithely following Heidegger, in the lineage of Aristotle, and ascribing this metaphysical dualism to Plato and thus nominating this thing called Platonism as the enemy of thought and, by implication, like all good post-modern rebels and English liberals, of freedom itself.
First, as noted, there is the question of the dialogue form.
As someone who prides himself on being able to read a text for what is and what is not there precisely – its ‘disavowed’ being Derrida’s bread and butter – it’s strange he doesn't think about the dialogue form itself as a means of writing. He just treats it like any other form of writing, and indeed he treats them all the same. Moreover, given his critique of Plato’s claims in the Phaedrus against the written form, and his argument that speech and writing are the same, it is even more curious that the dialogue form, which would be the site of these two coming together explicitly and not at all by coincidence or absence is not given proper consideration. Most importantly, there is something specific about the dialogue form which makes it unlike any other and that is in terms of just who is speaking. Is there really an author-subject as it were, a presence? And thus the question is, can the dialogue be deconstructed?
This also recalls something I said in lecture 1 about writing philosophy and whether it was a genre like any other or was itself the site of the generic per se – thus what is said there determines its own form of address and is not subsequent or subject to it.
Certainly a dialogue would seem appropriate to this and that Plato, in wanting to say what had not been said before, had to find the means of saying just this. Which is to say, find the means to let philosophy speak. Let’s note here the importance of me saying ‘let philosophy speak’ – that very thing which Socrates was so concerned with which is precisely not the preserve of anyone, any genre, any epoch, any God, as it were, but must be produced in every epoch as basically three things: a diagnosis of said epoch: what does the epoch propose? The construction, on the basis of this contemporary proposition, of a concept of truth.
This is what is aimed at in the dialogue, via the twists and turns necessitated by the question itself, rooted in that epoch. Hence in Plato, all the various speakers and most importantly all their various lineages. Very curiously Derrida doesn’t interrogate the characters in the dialogues to see exactly what they point at. Is this because he assumes they point at an absence, solely? Is every absence the same? Thirdly, philosophy is an existential experience relative to the true life. This is key to the dialogues and also of course to so much of what concerned the ancients and Nietzsche and some today, Hadot and Badiou to name two. So to live in the true, as subject to the construction of the true, which is not yours alone of course: to live philosophically, then.
So the problem for Derrida would be with the ‘presence’ in the dialogue, which he assigns to Plato but we can clearly see that the dialogues already have no author as such. In a way, the dialogues present the collective subject of philosophy which is not reducible to any singular voice – such that one is retroactively imposed on it hence at the price of asserting to it a presence, which it might be possible to argue was deliberately avoided.
Indeed Plato asserts this of himself and as I’ve mentioned before, the dialogues make a point of mentioning Plato’s absence. Yet note that in treating the dialogues like any other text, in treating text and world as similarly reducible and this ultimately because language is treated as the medium or trace of our being par excellence Derrida himself asserts a position or an intention and moreover he does so in forgetting. He, like most of us, forgets to remember the distinctive core of the dialogue form: that it is not a treatise or as such a means of assertion – and this even as Derrida himself experiments in writing.
Drew Hyland, in exploring some of the details of this, makes this remark, which is not only applicable to Derrida’s reading: ‘once we assume that Plato, like us, had philosophic positions that he wanted to assert as persuasively as possible—those positions that have come to be called, but never once by Plato, ‘Plato’s metaphysics,’ ‘Plato’s early epistemology,’ ‘Plato’s moral theory,’ ‘Plato’s late ontology,’ ‘Plato’s theory of forms, etc.—and that the reason he wrote was, like us, to assert those views as persuasively as possible, then his choice of the dialogue form in which to present those positions represents, we must conclude, an astonishing lapse in judgment, not to say an act of obtuseness.’
For Hyland, among some others, then, the point is that if you treat Plato as author, thus if we assume the form of philosophy is one of sovereign assertion so to speak, that best served by the form of the treatise for example, as then exemplary in all texts, then he is a bit stupid a priori because he chose to write in a form that generically cannot support this idea of philosophy. ‘What is lost in the dialogue form is what makes the treatise format so singularly appropriate for the assertion of philosophical positions: the first person format that enables us to identify, even if through a glass darkly, the position that the author wants to assert as his own.’ (Hyland)
So, that Plato chose the dialogue form is his first thought we might say – a thought that we have forgotten and yet one which is integrally linked to what is philosophy itself; the lived construction of what is true of an epoch. This is what the dialogues enact or even, provokes us to.
Hence we could even say, then, that Plato, faithful to his master, didn't write at all. Let’s just note in passing, because it will come up later in the course, that Plato is not dissembling here, it’s not an esoteric form he is prosecuting – hiding the true message and what have you. This pseudo-Straussianism, you can see, is comparable to deconstruction in finding what is not there, and that because they both come out of Heidegger.
The dialogue form is chosen because that is the form of transmission appropriate to the thought under construction, which is itself not at all a secret for the few but is in truth the thought of an epoch. As I have said, the dialogues are effectively doing philosophy – this is what it is to live philosophically. Dialogue after dialogue treats these things together – what is going on, what is to be done, how to do it… We can even note the precarious place of anyone who sought to assert a philosophy in some positive treatises type way – they were doomed to death in the ancient world, essentially.
It’s not a dinner party, as I’ve said. Thus to continue philosophy as interrogation and not end was Plato’s role in all this as bequeathed by Socrates and this is what is shown – how to go on!
So the dialogue form is specific and Derrida seems to miss what is essential to it – that it lacks presence already – thus authoriality, assertion, finality etc. Thus the very things critical to the possibility of its deconstruction. Perhaps Plato was already keen to avoid these, to avoid, precisely, the presupposition Derrida brings to the philosophical form, and thus perhaps the dialogue is undeconstructible?
Now, second thing: a quick look at a couple of his readings to suggest that Plato might not be the metaphysician Derrida needs him to be – i.e. that the binary form seems to be itself one of the things Plato criticises rather than holds up a definitive.
Hyland notes three possible points of intervention into Derrida’s deconstruction of Plato as the instigator or at least formaliser of the binary structure essential to the history of metaphysics. Importantly, we need to note that the fragmentary method is part of the problem of Derrida’s reading here.
Thus in ‘Plato’s Pharmacy,’ Hyland contends, ‘the multivocal meaning of the term pharmakon as it is employed several times by Socrates in the Phaedrus, offers the basis for a deconstructive reading that discovers meanings of logos at work in the text that destabilise the central, supposedly ‘Platonic’ teaching.’ Addressing the Timaeus, ‘Derrida can turn more or less directly to the khora passage to show how that ‘marginal’ discussion—it only takes up a page or two of the text—is a classic instance of differance, in that, as an unarticulable third intelligible only by the use of metaphors and a ‘bastard logic,’ it exhibits a different and deferred meaning from the dualism of Platonism, one that upsets, destabilises, the central Platonic teaching of the dialogue (again, more of the latter later). In Politics of Friendship, Derrida can refer now to this passage in the Lysis, now to that in the Menexenus, without reference to either dramatic or philosophic context.’
As Hyland puts it, ‘interested in the margins, interested in the different and deferred meanings of a text, Derrida’s deconstructive reading, having identified the central or guiding claims, can pass over their horizon to the play of differential meanings at the margins. Thus Derrida, unlike Heidegger, would seem to have a clear theoretical justification for not rendering interpretations of entire works but selecting particular passages out of context…’
But of course these ‘margins of philosophy’ have a tale to tell of philosophy tout court – in some senses these are what Derrida considers the tale of philosophy as such. As noted, deconstructive readings identify the central set of meanings in order precisely to pass on to those other, often marginal, different and deferred meanings that constitute the differance of a given text.
And so it matters, then, how these margins are constructed by deconstruction and it matters even more that these be marginalia – the big question that hovers over all of these types of readings and goes back to the lecture on Aristotle is what if Plato meant it? What if he too is putting these marginalia or undecideables – hence the metaphysical/marginal distinction – into play via the very form which would most likely support it, the dialogue, precisely in order that philosophy not be constructed as some definitive sovereign form but remains that which must be participated in again and again to be anything at all.
And this again goes to the problem of the author – and the assumption made by so many that all these characters – Timaeus in the Timaeus, the Stranger in the Sophist and so on, all speak for Plato – and moreover that the answers that the interlocutors give are those he expects us to also give.
So let’s just look quickly at the Timaeus as exemplary, as indication for you to go on with. One could equally assess his contentions in the Pahedrus and the pharmacon, where Platonism is at play, so to speak, and so among other things, 'dualism, an urge to system, the founding of metaphysics, and decisively an urge for univocity in language and a corresponding distaste for, indeed flight from, multi-vocity, the very play of meanings that Derrida argues is inherent in language itself. Again, for Derrida the pharmacon suggest all this that Plato tries to disavow or more tellingly, fails to know: which begs the question, of course, of why Plato makes it such an issue, what point does it put into play, what chance does it offer to thought, we might ask.
But of course it also puts Plato in play in two ways – he either doesn't know what he is doing, which suggests that his authorial place is less than authoritative or he does know, which suggests his intentions escape his capacities. Either way, Plato and Platonism would seem to split.
It’s basically at this point of the slippage, if you like, between one or the other or more metaphysically, between being and not being that Derrida posits deconstruction – so pharmacon, khora etc. In Hyland’s words: ‘Thus as a non-substantial being that does not fit into the metaphysical dichotomies of being and non-being, presence and absence, etc., the pharmakon or the khora as ‘supplement’ undercuts, in spite of himself, Plato’s efforts to set up that set of dualisms that will become Platonism.’
Thus in language itself then is this deconstructive effect not allowing Plato to do what he wants – supposing again that this is what he wants. And given how many times these ‘supplements’ are put there by Plato in his texts it should really occur to us at some point that this is one of the things he gives to us to think, so you’d might think.
So, in the Timeaus which is quite a long dialogue and to be honest, not my favourite, Derrida, armed with his presupposition turns to the centre of the dialogue where the Khora figures. I’m going to do this very schematically.
First, that Derrida starts in the middle means he misses what is always crucial in a dialogue – the set up. What we notice here is that there are several beginnings; attempts to take up the question at stake which yesterday was about the just city and today becomes in the process a story about the origins of the world and indeed it is a story – not philosophy, not dialectic. Maybe its philosophising but its grandiose rhetoric on philosophical premises.
But note, it begins with a discussion on beginnings and is about the beginning as such, so we can see the thought at stake inscribed within the form of the transmission
Note, as I have mentioned, the main character, Timeaus. I have said that all the names in Plato means something – either real figures with known positions or names meant to alert us to histories, intellectual attachments, social backgrounds, and so on. Timeaus is no different. He is a Pythagorean, basically, which Plato is not – even if he is a geometer - and as you follow Timeaus you see this wider Pythagorean doctrine emerge and you see also – Plato puts them on display so to speak – the contradictions in the mathematical position of Timeaus the Pythagorean, accounts shot through, by the way, with coda – that it's a likely story, or a provable account – hardly mathematical then?
And anyway, for Plato, mathematics is not the final word on anything and especially so when it is arithmetical or a matter of counting – which is how the dialogue begins by Socrates counting ‘one, two , three – where is the fourth from yesterday’ – thus the count does not identify as such.
I should note, too, Timeaus' misogyny which Plato does not endorse – indeed yesterdays discussion on the just city placed women equally with men and what Socrates knows of love is given to him by a woman; the method he practices is midwifery and Menexenus gets her own dialogue – not bad for a city, Athens, where women were kept inside.
And speaking of the Republic which was yesterdays discussion topic, Timeaus gives a recap of it in the Timeaus which is overtly fictions and inaccurate and ultimately, what happens here is that the question of the political form of the city envelops the metaphorical version of the cosmos, which is to say, the story Timeaus has to tell is already not the ‘all of things’, so to speak, but is given in a very political context that must be taken into account.
I could go on but suffice to say this and more shows us that any identification of Timeaus and Plato is highly problematic and thus to take Timeaus at his word is a mistake, which is to say, to deconstruct Timeaus as if he is Plato and thus as if Plato is Platonism, misses the point and itself invents its own target.
But anyway, for Derrida, ‘the khora passage constitutes the deconstructive moment in Platonism, the differance of any Platonic dualism or doctrine of eternal essences.’ Hyland notes amusingly that this is ‘testimony to the agility of Derrida deconstructive strategy’, since it is not all clear at first just how anyone could construe khora as marginal to the Timaeus. ‘Not only does it occur almost in the exact centre of the text (a point that Derrida explicitly notes), but almost no one would be tempted to pass over the khora as marginal to the core teaching of the text. It has long been regarded as a central problem of interpreting the Timaeus.’
So it’s in the middle, it comes up precisely as the matter of a new beginning and it operates as the third option distinct from being and becoming. All this in the dialogue itself! Plato is clearly operating the marginalia himself and in regard to the dualism that he is supposed to prosecute: unless he is an idiot, that is?
Ok I am going to have to stop; we could go on with this in several other directions but let me end with a sort of synthesis.
We can say, following Hyland’s summary, ‘that nothing constituted what we know of Platonism more than these three notions: khora, the idea of the good and eros; each, certainly, in a distinctive way. However, what we see is interesting: Khora, as even Derrida shows, stands outside any possible dualism, and explicitly outside the ‘Platonic’ dualism of Being and becoming that Timeaus introduces in his first beginning.’ And indeed, as an aside, designating the space of the polis outside the city walls is also the space in which the Academy was physically situated.
Second, the Idea of the good, Socrates tells us in the Republic, is beyond Being (Republic 509b), and so further problematises the Being/becoming dualism as what must be thought. Lastly, Erosvis characterised regularly as in the middle (metaxu) between the divine (Being) and mortal (becoming), and so in yet a third way problematises the assertion of a straightforward dualism. Not to mention that mathematics is also described as metaxu.
So the point is that what Derrida finds as the deconstructive essence of the texts and which by his own lights would be what the texts are missing, and this being missing is supposedly then the essence of the undermining of the metaphysical dualism of these very texts, and beyond that, as we have heard, the whole of western thought, is already in the texts themselves as what is given to us to think.
It’s not hidden, forgotten or a telos of the logos itself. It is the thought of philosophy – no more no less. If, against Heidegger’s contention of them being an embarrassment, we just took the dialogues seriously qua form, which means to read them as thought and act at once, and enacted and thought by figures of thought in their own right, we might see that Platonism does not exist insofar as what exists of it cannot be thought.