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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In critical theory and deconstruction, phallogocentrism' or phallocentrism (or, originally and more narrowly, logocentrism) is a neologism coined by Jacques Derrida, which refers to the perceived tendency of Western thought to locate the center of any text or discourse within the logos (a Greek word meaning word, reason, or spirit).

It also refers to the tendential privileging of the signified over the signifier, asserting the signified's status as more natural or pure. This is manifested in the works of Plato, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Ferdinand de Saussure and Claude Lévi-Strauss, all of whom regard speech as superior to writing, since writing only represents speech.

The narrower concept of logocentrism was coined by the German reactionary philosopher Ludwig Klages in the 1920s; it refers to Western Philosophy's preoccupation with truth, reason and the word, and a belief that pursuit of pure reason and truth can reveal the underlying bases of reality. It also identifies the way in which human thought often operates in binaries such as man/woman, reality/appearance, presence/absence, heterosexual/homosexual, literal/metaphorical, transcendental/empirical, or signified/signifier. These binaries are also explored by the French theorist Hélène Cixous.

Derrida and others identified phonocentrism, or the prioritizing of speech over writing, as an integral part of phallogocentrism. Derrida explored this idea in his essay "Plato's Pharmacy".

See also

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