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By Eric Lawrence Gans

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But were it not for this otherness, the sign would have no functionjust as our hypothesis would be use(ess were the origins of human culture not in the same way inaccessible and yet presentifiable through representation. Chap", 2 The Origin of Representation OUf introductory remarks have suggested a foundation for the social sciences, conceived fundamentally as specialized branches of the study of representations. But it does not suffice merely to propose a methodology in general terms as a model for the "reform" of already established disciplines.

Such an identity could no doubt be established independently of any specific form of represen· tation, but its very establishment implies that only through language could representation reflect on itself and thus T H E ORIGIN OF REPRESENTATION 31 become an object of study. Only by situating language at the origin of representation can the theory remain an application of its own doctrine. Were language merely a derivative of ritual, nothing could explain its privileged role as vehicle of the (hypothetical) truth.

The choice of universal love and peace, even supposing that it could somehow be made by humanity as a whole, can only be maintained by means of systems of representation; and this is as true of a family or a couple of lovers as it is of humani ty in genera l. The utopia of immediacy is by no means a necessary con sequ ence of even the institu ti onal theory, although this theory can only avoid it through (he invocation of a transcendent agency. We shall return to these questions in our concluding chapter.

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