“Signature Event Context … in, well, context”: Revisiting A Second Linguistic Turn

This article concerns a moment in French intellectual history when the self-evidences of structuralism become doubtful under the pressure exerted by discourse; it thus treats a second turn within the linguistic turn as it occurred in France. The work of Emile Benveniste, and texts by Jean-Francois Lyotard and Paul Ricoeur, flesh out this development. I use them, as well as John Searle’s response, to approach anew Derrida’s essay “Signature Event Context.” Derrida’s distance from this second linguistic turn thereby becomes visible (including from Lacan’s, Barthes’, and Foucault’s versions of it), and the distinct status of discourse in Derrida’s own thought emerges. Finally, critiquing Derrida’s folding of discourse into a notion of “signifying form” in sec, while drawing on his account there of “citationality,” I sketch new directions for conceiving of context and discourse themselves, ones arguably able to withstand Derrida’s express concerns.