I don't know how I missed THIS PIECE a few months ago. Discovering it now is a cool synchronicity, given Harman's nice (and definitive) recent post on "Derridean realism." Key point, that remains absolutely devastating:
But Derrida has cheated. He’s gone from an atomic relation of sign to sign and assumed that because a single signification is bereft of meaning, the entire system must be. This is a negative claim–that no meaning is possible–and he’s achieved it by narrowing the gap on both sides. First, he’s abandoned consideration of the holistic view in which a system of significations could have a meaning which is not contained in isolation in any single signification. (This is basically Quine’s argument in “Two Dogmas of Empiricism“: “The unit of empirical significance is the whole of science.”) Second, he’s insisted that a particular type of meaning, Husserl’s, is the only one possible, so any problem with Husserl’s admittedly naive theory extends to language in general.
So Derrida silently assumes logical atomism and a naive theory of reference, then posits that position as one side of a dichotomy and his endless deferral of meaning as the other, with no middle ground.
Anyhow, Joe Bob says to check out the whole post.*
It's a real honor to have been linked to by Auerbach, a TLS (!) critic of enviable analytical and literary powers.
*In the spirit of fairness, please also get a copy of Samual Wheeler's excellent Deconstruction as Analytic Philosophy and Martin Hagglund's equally good Radical Atheism. I love both these books, but still think that Auerbach is correct, and moreover that the problem he isolates is even more pressing with Derrida's later (and I think ethically monstrous) Schmidt inspired political writings.**
**Another caveat- All this being said, I think there is something importantly correct and deep about Derrida's view of the necessary impossible, and the manner in which this ties in to negative theology as visualized by important philosophers like Caputo. People like Wheeler, Hagglund, and Caputo (and Rorty too for that matter) just make it impossible for me to whole heartedly jump on an anti-Derrida bandwagon.]