Différance is the yin-yang principle

I believe Jacques Derrida’s concept of différance is an opaque rediscovery of the simple principle of yin and yang. White and black. Front and back. True and false. Opposites.

His idea is that the meaning of a term is never totally present. The meaning is deferred to some other different term. You can’t have white without black. You can’t have front without back.

If you ask a normal person to define “front”, they will likely say, “well, it’s the opposite of ‘back’”. So they deferred the meaning to another word that’s apparently different. Back is not-front. Front is not-back.

This interplay arises with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who was apparently influenced by the I Ching, in which yin and yang are used in a combinatorial fashion, when he purportedly invented the binary arithmetic system. 0s and 1s.

Later, Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace developed the digital computer, which is the foundation of all modern computing today.

When teaching the λ-calculus, there is a particularly blatant example of différance in defining what exactly a lambda is and what exactly function application is. Application has no sense without lambdas, and lambdas have no use without application. You have to introduce the two together.

Différance, binary, yin-yang, these are all the same insights.