I have an interest in doing a review on the history of anatomy, specifically to look at how some if the ideas in dissection and naming muscles has evolved. My interest in this regard stems from the problems that are occurring in the evolving field of functional anatomy. There has been significant difficulty in describing moving and loading tolerances etc through the common isolated muscle approach. I do not have a background in philosophy, but have gained a recent interest and was wandering if such an analysis could be done using the ideas of Derrida's deconstructive approach. Any ideas in this regard would be much appreciated.
Usually, or originally, deconstruction is an approach to a text. This could easily include a medical text.
It is tempting to make some sweeping analogy between the deconstruction of a text and the dissection of a body. This analogy sounds like fun but it is probably more trouble than its worth.
Derrida is often classed with the post-structuralists and I think the above mentioned analogy is more friendly to the structuralist approach. But what is structuralism and post-structuralism?
Structuralism is usually a term used to refer to the "human sciences" (oddly human anatomy is not one of the human sciences). Structuralism began with anthropology and linguistics. Saussure saw language as a system of interrelated parts. Then Levi-Strauss, following Saussure, applied a similar approach to the mythologies and cultural traditions of primitive peoples.
In some ways structuralism is an analogy drawn from physical systems like the solar system or the circulatory system into realms of the "human sciences". So why not draw those analogies right back to the physical systems. Could the human body, with its many different interrelated parts be thought of as a language? I like this analogy if we are talking about a language as described by structuralist Saussure but not so much if we are talking about a language as described by post-structuralist Derrida.
Both structuralism and post-structuralism focus more on meaning than on anything else. Semiology or semiotics is central and the sign is the fundamental unit, Peirce and Saussure are the founding fathers. (As opposed to the physical sciences which has physics as central...maybe still the atom as the fundamental unit and Newton, Maxwell, Einstein et al as founding fathers.)
Anatomy is concerned more concerned with function
than with meaning
. But that's ok because structuralists see meaning
within a larger structure. Post-structuralists abandoned this approach believing that meaning is too amorphous and unstable, influenced by too many external forces, Power/knowledge, difference
etc. etc. I don't know...
Bertalanffy and General Systems Theory came to mind when I first read the original post. He's a fairly popular name in the theoretical side of medicine or used to be. I think that will be a better direction than trying to make sense of Derrida.