Derrida’s Quasi-Technique

in Research in Phenomenology
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The article’s aim is to measure the potential of Derrida’s work for a philosophy of technique. It shows why Derrida does not present a positive philosophy of technology but rather describes technique as a quasi-technique, as if a technique. The article inquires into the potential of such a quasi-technique for a contemporary philosophy of technology: it is suggested that it can function as a salutary “deconstruction” of mainstream philosophy of technology (that “knows” the “essence of technology”) because it shows how to think technique in the absence of essence and as the absence of essence.

The article begins with a survey of the machines that figure in Derrida’s texts. It then examines three propositions concerning technology in Derrida’s work:

  1. Derrida thinks technology as a metaphor of writing and not the other way round.

  2. Derrida thinks technique as prosthesis, firstly of memory, then more generally of life.

  3. Derrida’s quasi-technique relies on his peculiar conception of the incorporal materiality of technique.




Jacques Derrida, “L’animal que donc je suis”, in L’animal autobiographique. Autour de Jacques Derrida, ed. Marie-Louise Mallet (Paris, Galilée, 1999). The later book version is translated by David Wills as The Animal That Therefore I Am (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008).


For instance, “Ce que Hegel n’a jamais pu penser, c’est une machine qui fonctionnerait.” “Le puits et la pyramide,” in Marges—de la philosophie (Paris: Minuit, 1972), 126.


Derrida, “Signature événement contexte”, in Marges de la philosophie; “Signature, event, context”, in Margins of philosophy, 307–330.


Derrida, “La main de Heidegger (Geschlecht II),” in Psyché, 27–63.


Bernard Stiegler, La Technique et le temps, tome 1: La Faute d’Épiméthée (Paris: Galilée, 1994). Translated by Richard Beardsworth and Richard Collins, Technics and Time I, The Fault of Epimetheus (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998).


Derrida, “Ulysses gramophone: Hear Say Yes in Joyce”, 56.


Serge Margel, Logique de la nature. Le fantôme, la technique et la mort (Paris: Galilée, 2000).


Derrida, De la grammatologie, 19.


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