Writing and the rights of reality : usurpation and potentiality in Derrida, Plato, Nietzsche, and Beckett
The thesis critically evaluates Jacques Derrida's conferral of the rights of reality on writing, focussing on his theory of an arche-text in light of the speculative nature of this theory. The theory is initially considered in the context of Derrida's elucidation of the usurpatory status of writing within the Platonic and Nietzschean texts. This consideration reveals an admission of writing's usurpatory status by both writers while at the same time demonstrating their awareness of the intrinsically speculative nature of this view, the significance of writing lying in its ability to exteriorise the radically indeterminate status of consciousness m relation to reality rather than its ability to displace consciousness or reality The analyses, therefore, not only bring the Derridean hypothesis of a repressive or phonocentric metaphysical episteme into question but also exhibit the historical and philosophical role of potentiality in relation to writing, writing's ultimate significance lying in its capacity to exteriorise our existence as a mode of potentiality. Accordingly, in the second half of the thesis the Derridean theory of writing is countered with a specifically Aristotelian theory of the text as it is exhibited in the prose of Samuel Beckett, an author whose significance lies in his close alignment with Derridean theory within contemporary criticism. It is demonstrated that this identification has obviated an awareness of the significance of potentiality within the Beckettian text, his work consequently being appraised in the previously neglected context of Aristotelian metaphysics.