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Limited Inc Paperback – January 1, 1988

ISBN-13: 978-0810107885 ISBN-10: 0810107880 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; 1 edition (January 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810107880
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810107885
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #593,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), was born in Algeria, has been called the most famous philosopher of our time. He was the author of a number of books, including Writing and Difference, which came to be seen as defining texts of postmodernist thought.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Jon Penney on December 30, 2000
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".
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on March 17, 2015
Format: Paperback
The Editor’s Foreword to this 1988 book explains, “‘Limited Inc’ collects in one volume for the first time, the two essays that constitute Jacques Derrida’s most sustained engagement with Anglo-American speech act theory. In a new Afterword… Derrida responds to questions… about the two essays and the criticisms they have received, as well as other controversial aspects of Derrida’s work… In its second volume (1977), [the publication] Glyph published a response to Derrida’s essay by John R. Searle … It was this ‘Reply’ that drew Derrida’s rejoinder, the essay ‘Limited inc abc’…; When Professor Searle declined to have his essay included in the present book, we decided to insert a brief summary of its main points in an editorial note between Derrida’s two essady… readers should be able to reconstruct the dispute between Derrida and Searle. But they are advised to consult the full text of Searle’s essay in Glyph 2.”

In the opening essay, Derrida states, “If we take the notion of writing in its currently accepted sense---one which should not… be considered innocent, primitive, or natural, it can only be seen as a MEANS OF COMMUNICATION. Indeed, one is compelled to regard it as an especially potent means of communication, extending enormously, in not infinitely, the domain of oral or gestural communication.” (Pg.
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12 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Q on April 17, 2006
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.
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