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Northwestern University Press
Evanston, IL
Northwestern University Press
Evanston, Illinois 60208-4 170
"Signature Event Context" copyright © 1972 by Les Editions de Minuit. English translation by Samuel
Weber and Jeffrey Mehlman first published in
1977. Copyright © 1977 by the Johns Hopkins
University Press and Editions de Minuit. "Signature Event Context," translated by Alan Bass, appears
Margins of Philosophy
by Jacques Derrida, published in 1982 by the University of Chicago Press.
English translation of "Limited Inc a b c . . ." by Samuel Weber first published in
Glyph 2, 1977.
Copyright © 1977 by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Used by permission of the Johns Hopkins
University Press.
Afterword copyright © 1988 by Jacques Derrida. Translation copyright © 1988 by Samuel Weber.
Editor's Foreword and Summary of "Reiterating the Differences" copyright © 1988 by Northwestern
University Press. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
14 13
10 9
ISBN 0-8101-0788-0
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Derrida, Jacques.
Limited Inc / Jacques Derrida.
p. cm.
Translated from the French.
Two essays herein appeared in Glyph v. 1 & 2, 1977.
Contents: Signature event context-Summary of "Reiterating the differences" -Limited Inc a b c­
Afterword: toward an ethic of discussion.
0-8101-0788-0 (pbk.)
I. Title.
PN98.D43D45 1988
801'.95 -dcI9
T he paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard
for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials,
Editor's Foreword
Signature Event Context
Summary of "Reiterating the Differences"
Limited Inc abc ...
Afterword: Toward An Ethic of Discussion 111
Editor's Foreword
Limited Inc collects, in one volume for the first time, the two essays that con­
stitute Jacques Derrida's most sustained engagement with Anglo-American
speech act theory. In a new Afterword, "Toward an Ethic of Discussion," Derrida
responds to questions (submitted to him in written form) about the two essays
and the criticisms they have received, as well as other controversial aspects of
Derrida's work.
The opening essay, "Signature Event Context," has a somewhat complicat­
ed publishing history. In its first version, the essay was written for a confer­
ence on the theme of "Communication" held by the Congres international des
Societes de philosophie de langue francaise (Montreal, August, 1971) and was
published in French in the Congres's Proceedings. The essay was then collect­
ed in Derrida's Marges de la Philosophy, published by Editions de Minuit in
1972. The first English translation, by Samuel Weber and Jeffrey Mehlman, ap­
peared in volume 1 of the serial publication Glyph in 1977. It subsequently
appeared in a translation by Alan Bass in Margins of Philosophy (University of
Chicago Press, 1982).
In its second volume (1977), Glyph published a response to Derrida's essay
by John R. Searle entitled "Reiterating the Differences: A Reply to Derrida. " It was
this "Reply" that drew Derrida's rejoinder, the essay "Limited Inc abc. . . ," trans­
lated by Samuel Weber. When Professor Searle declined to have his essay includ­
ed in the present book, we decided to insert a brief summary of its main points in
an editorial note between Derrida's two essays. With this summary and Derrida's
comprehensive quotation of Searle's "Reply," readers should be able to recon­
struct the dispute between Derrida and Searle. But they are advised to consult
the full text of Searle's essay in Glyph 2.
Because Searle's "Reply" and Derrida's rejoinder in "Limited Inc" make ex­
tensive reference to passages in the Weber-Mehlman translation of "Signature
Event Context," we have chosen to use that translation here.
On behalf of the Northwestern University Press, I want to extend my warmest
thanks to Samuel Weber for initially suggesting this project, helping it along in
innumerable ways, and translating the Afterword under considerable deadline
pressure. And of course we thank Jacques Derrida for giving us the honor of
making his texts available in book form, and for enhancing them with his most
recent thoughts.
Signature Event Context