Documentality: Why It Is Necessary to Leave Traces

Documentality: Why It Is Necessary to Leave Traces


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This books ushers in a new way of talking about social phenomena. It develops an ontology of social objects on the basis of the claim that registration or inscription—the leaving of a trace to be called up later—is what is most fundamental to them. In doing so, it systematically organizes concepts and theories that Ferraris’s predecessors—most notably Derrida, in his project of a positive grammatology—left in an impressionistic state.

Ferraris begins by redefining ontology as a way of cataloguing the world. Before any epistemology can discuss the validity of scientific or nonscientific judgments, one faces a collection of objects, be they natural, ideal, or social. Among these, Ferraris focuses on social objects, elaborating a theory of experience in the social world that leads him to define social objects as “inscribed acts.” He then uses this notion to interpret social phenomena, also in light of a systematic discussion of the concept of performatives, from Austin to Derrida and Searle.

Moving into considerations of the present technological revolution, Ferraris develops a “symptomatology of the document” that leads to a consideration of legal systems, finding in them original applications for his theory that an object equals a written act.

Written in an easy, often witty style, Documentality revises Foucault’s late concept of the “ontology of actuality” into the project of an “ontological laboratory,” thereby reinventing philosophy as a pragmatic activity that is directly applicable to our everyday life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780823249695
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Publication date: 12/18/2012
Series: Commonalities
Pages: 392
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Maurizio Ferraris is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Turin. He is the co-author, with Jacques Derrida, of A Taste for the Secret and the author of Documentality: Why It Is Necessary to Leave Traces (Fordham).

Richard Davies teaches Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Bergamo. His research interests are in logic and the history of philosophy.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Marriages and Years in Jail 1

1 Catalog of the World 7

1.1 Samples 7

1.2 Subjects 22

1.3 Objects 13

2 Ontology and Epistemology 55

2.1 The Transcendental Fallacy 57

2.2 Ontological Differences 84

2.3 Theory of Experience 102

3 Social Objects 120

3.1 Social Epistemology 121

3.2 Realism and Textualism 138

3.3 Objects, Acts, and Inscriptions 164

4 Ichnology 175

4.1 Registration and Imitation 178

4.2 Writing, Archiwriting, Thought 197

4.3 Genesis and Structure of Inscriptions 224

5 Documentality 247

5.1 Documents 249

5.2 Works 271

5.3 The Phenomenology of the Letter 281

6 Idioms 297

6.1 What Does a Signature Mean? 298

6.2 Le Style C'est l'Homme 305

6.3 Epilogue: Eleven Theses 316

Notes 321

Index 371

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