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Limited Inc [Hardcover]

Derrida
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; Reprint edition (1 Dec 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810107872
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810107878
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,965,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons on the subtleties of reading and writing 25 Jan 2004
Format:Paperback
This book is a collection of the brilliant (but punningly dry) essay "Signature, Event, Context", among other things a reading of the late Oxford philosopher John Austin's theorization of speech acts, a much longer piece "Limited, Inc. a b c", and a postscript "Afterword: Toward an Ethic of Discussion" written as responses to questions from editor Gerald Graff. The first essay originally appeared in the first issue of _Glyph_ and was angrily answered in that journal's second isse by Austin's "student" John Searle. This and others of Searle's consistently unsuccessful attempts to read Derrida and write in response to his challenges, which escalated into some very unpleasant name calling undertaken by Searle in more journalistic forums, form several phantom members of this book (Searle declined to have his essays reprinted in this collection), virtually reincorporated by way of Derrida's extensive quotations.
Derrida proceeds via a close reading of Austin (largely _How to Do Things with Words_), tracing the latter's study of "performative" linguistic uses in transactions at least as various as wedding vows and the commencement of sporting events. Derrida devotes considerable attention to the specifics of the play of the "metaphysics of presense" in Austin (why, for example, the notion of the performative is advanced under the banner of "speech act" theory) via the topoi of the reading/writing distinction, the privilege granted to intention, and the "parasitic" nature of citation. Following the intimate detail of Austin's text, Derrida shows that, even as it attempts reductionist conclusions, there remains a trace of rigour in the form of highly nuanced considerations capable of radically altering the conclusions proposed by Austin.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fair Play to Derrida 21 May 2007
Format:Paperback
This is Derrida at his mischievious and playful best and as with all postmodern thought, you do need to approach this text with a fully open mind in order the get the best from it.

This is a difficult text and really has to be read and understood in its full context.

I can sympathise with the negative view below, but would stress that this is not really a text that should be given to under graduate students who are not being taught full on postmodern or post-stucturalist courses. Lets face it, being 'forced' to read a text of this nature is not a good foot to get off on. I suspect that the presence of such reading material on an under-graduate course is the outcome of a lecturer who does everything she can to show off her postmodern black belt - rather than being any valid essential reading.

Derrida is generally hard to read and this is part of a point he is trying to convey about the difficluties involved in interpreting texts. I feel amibivalent about this approach, it does serve to illustrate his point, however the downside is that it massively reduces the possiblity of the receptability of his thinking to the 'normal' academic reader.

In this respect, in living up to his principles, Derrida was very much his own worst rod-backing enemy - consequently he is always inevitably misunderstood. Thats the price you pay for turning up the heat in your own kitchen I guess.

Having said that, this is probably the easiest and most entertaining of his texts as the conflict between Searle and Derrida is a clash of two titans of modernist and postmodern approaches to philosophy. Most critics do not criticize Derrida directly, but usually 'dare' to take on ancillary writers or commentators around his thoughts (Habermas for example).
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining 1 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Anyone interested in the philosophy of language will find Derrida's deconstructionist take on J.L. Austin's "How to Do Things With Words" quite interesting, and, at times, enlightening. But the real fun in this book is when Derrida begins to attack John Searle's response to Derrida's take on Austin. He takes off his gloves and really goes after him and if anything, you'll be left questioning your assumptions about the maturity levels of renowned academics.
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4 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What?? 7 Nov 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is one of the worst and most incalculably difficult, narcissistic texts I have ever tried to read. And I only tried to read it because I had to. Derrida, like many poststructuralists, was something of a madman, in my view. What on earth is he trying to convey? Writing 'about' speech acts? How can you attempt anything so insane? Writing words about words? Text about text? And then have the temerity to suggest that your text actually has some kind of 'transcendental' status conferred upon it by...God? No, because according to poststructuralism God doesn't exist. So who? Ah, Derrida himself. Hence my use of the phrase 'narcissistic' which I can't spell and won't even try to.
I would only recommend reading Derrida if you're in the mood for mental frolicking, and generally want to screw up the way your mind works. Honestly, he takes it for a spin-dry, and the thing is it doesn't feel like it's come out in the wash. There are much better ways.
Derrida's philosophy, in my view, is a frivolous waste of time and not worth bothering with IN ANY SENSE. But, if you have to for an undergraduate course...
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who's serious? 31 Dec 2000
By Jon Penney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Let's be serious" Derrida writes. Then four paragraphs later he writes it again. Then several pages later again. What is the effect of this textual trope? It gives the reader the feeling that what Derrida has been writing, reasoning and arguing up to that point has not been "serious". And that means, it can't be philosophy, for philosophy concerns "serious" issues right? But all the while, Derrida continues to address important questions and "serious" arguments put forth by "serious" philosopher John Searle's... so surely he is in fact being serious? Can we be really be certain? Derrida, I think, wants to open up these questions and it is here where his style itself becomes the philosophical question: can we ever really be sure of conceptual serious and non-serious speech acts?
Limited Inc is a collection of three short pieces which encapsulate the famous exchange (or polemic?) b/w the late Austin, Derrida and american philosopher Searle. The first essay is Derrida's critique of Austin's earliest statement of Speech Act theory: "How to do things with Words". The second is Derrida lengthy reply to Searle's criticisms of Derrida's first essay (Searle is the crusader of contemporary Speech Acts.. Mr. Speech Acts, if you will) and the third, and perhaps most insightful is "Afterword" an interview with Derrida several years after the fact, where Derrida reflects on the "violence" of the earlier Searle-Derrida exchange.
I give Limited Inc a 5 star rating for simply the addition of "Afterwords". This interview is the (in my experience) clearest statement of Derrida's project of deconstruction-- to lessen the "violence" of philosophical practices and bring them to a new contextual level where they no longer operate undetected. It is also Derrida's first direct response to many of the (I believe) misdirected attacks on deconstruction -- e.g., the much misunderstood phrase "il n'y a pas d'ors text" -- there is nothing outside the text, which Derrida states vehemently, means not that there is no "reality" outside of a text (idealism) but, there is nothing outside of "context".
It is points like this, I believe, which will help clear up a lot of the speculation surrounding Derrida's philosophy *and* politics. Limited Inc, I predict, will be an integral text in bringing Derrida's unique philosophical enterprise its into the Post-Wittgensteinian analytic tradition where it deserves to be studied.
11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Derrida on Speech-Act Theory 18 April 2006
By Q - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is Derrida's critique of speech-act theory. The importance of Speech-act theory for linguistics is that it seems to advance beyond referential theories of language by focusing on what language actually does in specific pragmatic contexts. LIMITED INC serves as one of the most concise and clear versions of Derrida's notoriously difficult philosophy or method. Derrida's basic thesis is about language, so this book goes to the heart of his deconstructive project. In essence, he argues that we can never actually say what we mean. Not only that, we can never even mean what we mean. If this is his thesis, then a straightforward exposition of this claim would be obviously self-contradictory; hence Derrida's obscure and elliptical method. In this particular book, he focuses on "iterability"; words can be repeated, and when they are, they never have exactly the same meaning. Furthermore, meaning depends upon context, yet the definition of the context is always arbitrary. Derrida's thesis depends upon the gap between material word and immaterial meaning; the "materiality of the signifier" is the residue or "supplement" which conventional theories of language typically ignore.

The first section, "Signature, Event, Context," is a reprint of an journal article by Derrida which critiques Austin's speech-act theory. In response, John Searle wrote a defense of Austin which attempts to refute Derrida. Since Searle refuses to allow his essay to be reprinted, the editor gives us a three-page summary/paraphrase. The next section is Derrida's long response to Searle, "Limited Inc a b c . . ." The final section is Derrida's answers to some questions posed by Gerald Graff. Possibly the funniest part is "Limited Inc," in which Derrida responds to Searle. While Searle is the model analytic philosopher, always attempting to clarify the issue, Derrida delights in digressions, puns, deliberately provocative claims, and obfuscations. For example, he insists on referring to Searle as "Sarl" for reasons which I shall not attempt to summarize here. It seems rather childish on Derrida's part to refuse to call Searle by his proper name.

The questions raised by Graff in the final section go to the heart of the problems with Derrida's method, and Derrida's answers are for the most part obviously inadequate. Derrida does have a point about the problems with conventional theories of language, but he totally ignores how language actually functions in this world. Speech-act theory does not resolve those problems either. In order to understand language, we need to analyze it in anthropological terms, recognizing that language distinguishes humans from all other animals.
13 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining 1 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Anyone interested in the philosophy of language will find Derrida's deconstructionist take on J.L. Austin's "How to Do Things With Words" quite interesting, and, at times, enlightening. But the real fun in this book is when Derrida begins to attack John Searle's response to Derrida's take on Austin. He takes off his gloves and really goes after him and if anything, you'll be left questioning your assumptions about the maturity levels of renowned academics.
3 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clearly Put 18 July 2001
By "orion_ravenwood" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Limited Inc." is made up of three sections: "Speech Event Context" as the core (or intro?), "A,B,C..." as a responce to Searl's rediculousness/seriousness, and a last section of which i cannot remember the name but worth the read. "Limited Inc." is worth is weight in gold alone in Speech Event Context, as it is Derrida at his most clear and concise, a refreshing change. It discusses the concept of iritability and in many ways sums up much of Derrida's work in writing. "A,B,C.." however go to clear up Speech Event Context and take us on a wild ride through Searl's (lack of seriousness/too much seriousness) and go to greath lengths in interesting details. It may be the most amusing/humerous work by derrida simply through his conversations with Searl. Well worth the read.
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