In an essay on “The Hermeneutics of Difference” in a volume edited by Merold Westphal, Garrett Green offers this helpful summary of Derrida’s conception of supplement: “The fundamental hermeneutical situation in which we all find ourselves as users of signs, which Derrida indicates by the word DIFFERANCE, means that no text can ever be complete or self-sufficient, which in turn implies that every text stands in need of a supplement. For a supplement expresses what CANNOT be said in the original text. Note well: not just what IS NOT said, but what CANNOT be said without rending the fabric, the ‘textile,’ as Derrida calls it, of the text; in other words, what makes the text the text. That is not a failing of the original, but it does represent the inevitable limits to which all texts are subject.”

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Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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