Derrida and the Economy of Difference by Irene E. Harvey

By Irene E. Harvey

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It can easily explain why the object moves across the room, but not why it moves downward! If there is no internal “natural” motion downward, there must be an external cause acting on the object that counteracts the inertial motion in the direction in which it is thrown. This supposed other cause is the well-known “force of gravity” of modern physics. According to this theory, the earth invisibly exerts a force on the object that causes it to move toward its center. Hobbes on Morality and the Modern Science of Motion 31 Aristotle supposes invisible air currents as the external cause that moves the object in a direction contrary to its “natural” motion downward.

In the ordinary way of describing illusions, sense is by sense corrected in the following manner: when I see an oar bent in the water, my visual sense is deceived, but with my hand I can feel the oar’s straightness. But Hobbes has in mind a more general deception, as is clear when he says that I see objects as colored, and yet color is not a property of the object. Certainly if the color that I see were not a real property of external objects, I could not correct the illusion by using some other sense, or manner of seeing, that would grasp the true color.

Instead of straight-line motion actually causing circular motion, as in Hobbes, the sublunary straight-line motion is hierarchically subordinate to the higher-level circular motion. In the descent from more to less universal characteristics, human rationality comes after animality, not because the secret cause of rationality is found in a complication of animality, but because animality refers to more general characteristic of beings, such as the ability to move from place to place and to reproduce offspring, which the human being shares with other animals.

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