Logocentrism: the culprit of phonocentrism and other -isms

Author: Jolanta Lapiak, 2007-2014.

Before we proceed to phonocentrism, we need to understand what logocentrism is first. Because, phonocentrism is part of the larger aspect: logocentrism.

(Draft vlog)

Alex Scott succinctly describes: "According to Derrida, 'logocentrism' is the attitude that logos (the Greek term for speech, word, thought, law, or reason) is the central principle of language and philosophy."[1]

That is, logocentrism is a metaphysical fundamental of attitude consisting of logos.

Logocentrism: characteristics

Logos; metaphysics of presence; dichotomy; hierarchy; supplementarity; linearization


Logos are a set of speech, thought, god, reason, mathematics, truth, word, etc. What patterns do you see? Purity, truth, God, sound, voice, absolute, objectivity.

Logos become the center as a foundation which creates hierarchy and dichotomy as well as the Center and its margins or the Other.

Dichotomy and hierarchy

First, binary oppositions are laid.

E.g. speaking vs writing, image vs word, looking vs reading, gesture vs language, hearing vs deaf, speech vs sign language.

More: presence / absence, man / woman, masculine / feminine, music / visual art, philosophy (truth) / literature (rhetoric), etc.

Second, privilege the one (center) over the "other" (margin) thus subordinate the other.

Hierarchy from privileging one one over another in binary opposition leads to creating a center and margins of social structure and social conflicts/issues (e.g. racism, sexism, audism, and other structgural dominances). It results in a dominance of one over the other. E.g. genders and colors of skin.

E.g. speech over writing, speech over sign language. Hearing superior to Deaf people.

Metaphysics of presence

Dichotomy: presence vs absence

speech <--> presence

speech (presence) / writing (absence)

hearing (presence) / deaf (absence)

Here comes the hierarchial perception: where there is no hearing, it leads to no language. Speech is close to the thought, which in turns close to the truth/God. In Greek Aristotle's time, Deaf people were seen as having no soul.


[1] Jim Powell, Derrida for Beginners, (New York: Writers and Readers Publishing, 1997), p 33 cited in Alex Scott.

Related posts

Introducing phonocentrism and sign language

Logocentrism: hierarchy and dichotomy.