Jaques Derrida: Structure, Sign and Play

Jacques Derrida

Perhaps something has occurred in the history of the concept of structure that could be calle an 'event', […] Its exterior form would be that of a 'rupture' and a redoubling.1

I think what Derrida means in this passage is that a shift, what he calls a rupture, happened in the history of Western Philosophy and in the whole concept of knowledge. This shift concerns the way one may consider the notion of structure. This concept has lond been described as having a center. But as this center is not located in the structure itself, we began to think about the structurality of the structure itself. This is the shift Derrida is talking about at the beginning of his essay. Every structure has an inner structurality. Philosophy and language being structures, this new conception is particularly applied to them. Derrida talks about a complete shift in our own conception of systems.
If we had to find a concrete example of this notion, we could take the one of a house. Let's say you always considered your house as a structure, as your place. You try to be comfortable in your environment but then, you begin to realize that you can consider the entire neighborhood as a structure and your house is just a tiny part of it. But you can consider the inner qualities of your house that actually makes it being a house, the « houseness » of your house in other words. This is the rupture he is talking about.

The center is at the center of the totality, and yet, since the center does not belong to the totality (is not part of the totality), the totality has its center elsewhere. The center is not the center.2

In the structuralist vision of the concept of structure, as well as in the history of Western Philosophy, it has always been considered as having a definite center. This center allows all the parts of the structure to stay together. It is the only way to control the play of all those parts. The play is a good thing but does not have to be excessive....