The Description of Statements
DOI link for The Description of Statements
The Description of Statements book
I now ﬁnd that the analysis has shifted its ground to a quite considerable extent; it was my intention to return to the deﬁnition of the statement, which, at the outset, I had left in suspense. It was as if I had regarded the statement as a unit that could be established without diﬃculty, and that all I had to do was describe its possibilities and laws of combination. I now realize that I could not deﬁne the statement as a unit of a linguistic type (superior to the phenomenon of the word, inferior to the text); but that I was dealing with an enunciative function that involved various units (these may sometimes be sentences, sometimes propositions; but they are sometimes made up of fragments of sentences, series or tables of signs, a set of propositions or equivalent formulations); and, instead of giving a ‘meaning’ to these units, this function relates them to a ﬁeld of objects; instead of providing them with a subject, it opens up for them a number of possible subjective positions; instead of ﬁxing their limits, it places them in a domain of coordination and coexistence; instead of determining their identity, it places them in a space in which they are used and repeated. In short, what has been discovered is not the atomic statement – with its apparent meaning, its origin, its limits, and its individuality – but the
operational ﬁeld of the enunciative function and the conditions according to which it reveals various units (which may be, but need not be, of a grammatical or logical order). But I now feel that I must answer two questions: what do I now understand by the task, which I originally set myself, of describing statements? How can this theory of the statement be adjusted to the analysis of discursive formations that I outlined previously?