Here's a new piece of writing by Ken (though some of it looks like it is copied from an older text). 

Integral Semiotics

I have skimmed it, but I'm too swamped at the moment to give it careful attention.  I look forward to coming back to this in a few days.

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Perhaps Desilet is quite accurate. But what about this quotation:

"Derrida's admission, according to Wilber, marks a grudging capitulation to the necessity for an absolute ground, some manner of absolute transcendence in systems of meaning in order for such systems to be in any genuine sense meaningful. Wilber appears to have first introduced this reading of Derrida at a much earlier date than the Integral Spirituality text (e.g., Wilber, 2000, pp. 601-602)."

The only "absolute ground" I'm aware of in Wilber's model is nonduality, emptiness, etc. which I understand may be controversial as well, but it is a different subject. Here we're just discussing the idea of any signified that transcends local culture or one language or any signified that two cultures or languages can have in common, nothing "absolute."

And I think while overall a phrase like "quasi-transcendental signified" might work to refer to both local and global aspects of a signified, I think it also works to speak of a transcendent aspect and a local aspect. Because if there weren't an aspect that transcends local culture, there could be no communication at all between cultures or people of different languages. And there is some communication, isn't there?

So by "transcend" here I just mean transcending local language and culture in part -- not entirely, but in part. But even that transcendence wouldn't qualify as an "absolute ground" or absolute transcendence of all systems. It just refers to a common ground between cultures and languages. So that's why I think there may be some mis-understanding between Desilet and Wilber.

I'm not trying to argue that Wilber is better than Derrida; that's also another discussion. I'm just wondering whether they are understanding each other here. It seems like Desilet might be reading too much into Wilber's understanding of "transcendental signifed," or maybe he is confusing this with spiritual signifieds, or could he perhaps be arguing against all common contexts? Desilet says, for example:

"Through different temporal readings and contexts, words consistently fail to rise to the standard of functioning as a set of instructions guaranteeing univocal meaning."

http://www.gregorydesilet.com/code/Derrida_Ken_Wilber_and_Postmoder...

Is he arguing against all common contexts there? I think "common signified" might also be a good phrase for "transcendental signified," and maybe one less likely to be misunderstood.

Wilber in the footnote in Integral Spirituality (on page 155) isn't making any reference to absolute truth or absolute ground of being; he is entirely in the relative truth in that footnote. So I think it would be good to just set aside the spiritual topics, at least for now.

I think this is partly where the misunderstanding is coming from -- Wilber is using a term that Derrida employs for conceptual absolutes (which are supposed to be self-existent and self-sufficient, free of all contexts and thus portable equally into all contexts) to refer to something different.  This actually exemplifies Derrida's point: the term, "transcendental signified," is itself here exhibiting the ambiguity that he is arguing is intrinsic to signification.

Yes, I think that is partly where the misunderstanding comes from. Wilber uses "transcendental signified" to refer to that which can make a translation somewhat functional (or at times I would even argue completely functional), but he doesn't mean it in the absolute sense of the representational paradigm, which is where the phrase originally comes from.

But it seems to me that just for a moment in that Positions passage Derrida does the same thing. He says, "No translation would be possible without it." So he must be referring to something more than the everyday, intra-cultural discussion about signifieds and signifiers; he must be referring to something that transcends any given language and culture.

But then after that he expresses his dissatisfaction with the phrase and suggests "transformation," though that loses any connotation of transcending a given language and moving into some common context for me.

Derrida's writing there is not exactly clear. I think that's part of the problem as well. It may be that this is characteristic of his writing, as some have alleged. But I've always wondered whether he actually was admitting something and having trouble doing it and garbling his words, kind of like Fonzi having trouble saying he was "wrong":

http://youtu.be/uwkU8-d1gIk

When Derrida says "it" in his sentence, "no translation is possible without it," I believe the "it" points to the just previously mentioned (irreducible but not radical/absolute) "difference between signifier and signified," not to "transcendental signified" back in point a.  In other words, translation would not be possible without admitting some kind of real difference between signifier and signified, but this difference is not the absolute difference presumed in classic notions of transcendental signifieds (most strongly exemplified by "God").  This is how Desilet reads it, and I think this is accurate. 

Yes, I gathered that there was that difference between Wilber's and Desilet's interpretation earlier. But I think the confusion is that Derrida is reworking the original, metaphysical idea of a transcendental signified ("an absolutely pure, transparent, and unequivocal translatibility," which he rejects) into an interpretation that recognizes a partial truth in it.

So Derrida is not admitting that the original conception of the transcendental signifier is absolutely right (which isn't what Wilber is arguing either), but simply using that as a starting point for his own discussion, in which he will recognize a partial truth in the transcendental signified and eventually call it "transformation" instead.

With regard to what "no translation is possible without it" refers to, I think it is better to work with the second instance of difference ("this opposition and difference") rather than the first. The second instance refers to the first instance, which is the one you mention -- "difference between signifier and signified" -- and I think it better clarifies what he is talking about than the first. Here is the sentence in which the second instance occurs:

"That this opposition or difference cannot be radical or absolute [here Derrida is rejecting the representational interpretation of the transcendental signified] does not prevent it from functioning [here Derrida is saying there is a partial truth in it]."

So I think Wilber's claim is that Derrida wasn't recognizing a partial truth in the transcendental signified before this, and now in Positions he is recognizing a partial truth. But Desilet interprets Wilber as saying that Derrida is admitting to the original, representational version, which he isn't, only recognizing a partial truth in it.

It seems to me that the problem here may be that Desilet isn't recognizing the partial truth in the transcendental signified himself (not recognizing common contexts) and therefore isn't wanting to see this recognition in Derrida, so he can only see Wilber as trying to say that Derrida is admitting to the original, representational conception of it.

But Wilber is only saying Derrida is recognizing a partial truth in the transcendental signified, which he expresses in that Integral Spiritually footnote a little clumsily when he refers to "Derrida's admission, in Positions, of a transcendental signifier [sic]," which taken literally would mean that Derrida admitted to the representational version of a transcendental signified (which, again, he didn't, only a partial truth).

I see now that when you said, putting it in quotation marks, "difference between signifier and signified" I think you meant to say distinction rather than difference, which was as he wrote it. In the sentence before what I was calling the "second instance" of the word difference he did say "the signifier and signified," but he didn't use the word difference or distinction there.

Earlier he did say the "distinction between signifier and signified," so that is probably what you were referring to when you said "difference between signifier and signified." In any case, it's the same difference, same meaning. In each instance there he is talking about the same thing.

So I think he just clarifies himself better in the sentence where he talks about the "opposition or difference" rather than the sentence with "distinction between signifier and signified," which, again, is this one:

"That this opposition or difference cannot be radical or absolute [here Derrida is rejecting the representational interpretation of the transcendental signified] does not prevent it from functioning [here Derrida is saying there is a partial truth in it]."

Hi -- right, it wasn't a direct quote, but really a reconstruction, using words he did use: 

"nor is it a question of confusing at every level, and in all simplicity, the signifier and the signified. That this opposition or difference cannot be radical or absolute does not prevent it from functioning"

..."difference" here reinforcing his point that signifier and signified, while partially overlapping, still should not be conflated or confused with one another.  In my view, he is saying that although this difference is not radical or absolute, that lack of absoluteness does not prevent "it" (the opposition or difference) from functioning.

In this post I just pasted my earlier long post without the mistake we made about difference and distinction. So you can just skip those two previous posts, if you want. The first of my last two posts is identical to this one without the mistake.

Yes, I gathered that there was that difference between Wilber's and Desilet's interpretation earlier. But I think the confusion is that Derrida is reworking the original, metaphysical idea of a transcendental signified ("an absolutely pure, transparent, and unequivocal translatibility," which he rejects) into an interpretation that recognizes a partial truth in it.

So Derrida is not admitting that the original conception of the transcendental signifier is absolutely right (which isn't what Wilber is arguing either), but simply using that as a starting point for his own discussion, in which he will recognize a partial truth in the transcendental signified and eventually call it "transformation" instead.

With regard to what "no translation is possible without it" refers to, I think it is best to look at this sentence:

"That this opposition or difference cannot be radical or absolute [here Derrida is rejecting the representational interpretation of the transcendental signified] does not prevent it from functioning [here Derrida is saying there is a partial truth in it]."

So I think Wilber's claim is that Derrida wasn't recognizing a partial truth in the transcendental signified before this, and now in Positions he is recognizing a partial truth. But Desilet interprets Wilber as saying that Derrida is admitting to the original, representational version, which he isn't, only recognizing a partial truth in it.

It seems to me that the problem here may be that Desilet isn't recognizing the partial truth in the transcendental signified himself (not recognizing common contexts) and therefore isn't wanting to see this recognition in Derrida, so he can only see Wilber as trying to say that Derrida is admitting to the original, representational conception of it.

But Wilber is only saying Derrida is recognizing a partial truth in the transcendental signified, which he expresses in that Integral Spiritually footnote a little clumsily when he refers to "Derrida's admission, in Positions, of a transcendental signifier [sic]," which taken literally would mean that Derrida admitted to the representational version of a transcendental signified (which, again, he didn't, only a partial truth).

Oh, we just posted at the same time. :-)   You'll see I was also focusing on that sentence.

Hi, Bruce.

You say: "difference" here reinforcing his point that signifier and signified, while partially overlapping, still should not be conflated or confused with one another.  In my view, he is saying that although this difference is not radical or absolute, that lack of absoluteness does not prevent "it" (the opposition or difference) from functioning."

Yes, and it seems to me that with "it" he is referring to a signified that people, even of different languages, can have in common (which recognizes a partial truth in what representationalists called the transcendental signified).

Yes, I thought you might be doing a reconstruction rather than a direct quotation. I actually said something like that in a first draft, but then took it out just to make it shorter and more simple.

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