Laws and Universality, Laws and History

The article begins by examining two arguments used by Derrida in work published in 1967. The first claims against Lévi-Strauss that an empirical pattern of events cannot be injected into or superimposed onto an historical pattern claiming universality, for then there can be no disconfirmation of what is said. (This argument is used against Marxian history by some who write in the wake of Existentialism, Paul Roubiczek for instance.) The second claims against Foucault that he does not distinguish between reason as part of thinking and language and reason as an empirical historical structure capable of modification along time. The article then discusses the use of very similar if not identical arguments in Derrida’s much more recent work on laws, Force of law. The intelligibility, the interpretability, of laws and their history comes after the laws, not before, and is thus not fully universalisable.