For Derrida, the illusion of an ultimate referent at the heart of a signifying system which is portrayed as ‘absolute and irreducible’, stable, timeless, and transparent—as if it were independent of and prior to that system. He argued that dominant ideological discourse relies on this metaphysical foundation. All other signifieds within the signifying system are subordinate to this final meaning to which they point. Derrida noted that this privileged signified is subject to historical change, so that Neo-Platonism focused on ‘the Monad’, Christianity focused on God, Romanticism focused on consciousness, and so on. Without such a foundational term to provide closure for meaning, every signified functions as a signifier in an endless play of signification. See also foundationalism.
Subjects: Media studies