Immediacy, Presence

Broadly speaking, the Brandomian critique of claims of two-stage models of representation — where representings are sharply distinguished from representeds, as supposedly having immediate intelligibility that representeds lack — seems to me to have at least a partial analogue in early Derrida’s critique of presence and of what he called a transcendental signified, as well as to some of what Foucault wrote about representation in The Order of Things.

Brandom does not want to entirely subvert representation, as Derrida and Foucault sometimes seemed to. He just wants to insist that it is always derivative, and cannot be a starting point. Although Derrida was less anti-Hegelian than many of his contemporaries, I don’t recall that he recognized, as Brandom does, that there was a strong precedent for the critique of immediacy in Kant and Hegel. Foucault‘s very sharp overt rejection of Hegel needs to be balanced against the fact that his own historical account of what are in effect shapes of subjectivity covers many of the same moments as Hegel’s, and in effect strongly continues the Hegelian critique of Mastery. Unfortunately, Brandom sees both of them as meriting no more than one-line dismissals. (See also Genealogy.)

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