Derrida builds his Post-Structuralist theory of language upon the destruction of Edmund Husserl's phenomenological theory of language. Husserl is in search of an especially 'true' level of language – from an 'I'-philosopher's point of view. For Husserl, 'true' language is necessarily and exclusively human, and he draws an absolute distinction between human signs and natural signs. This leads him to regard as incidental to linguistic meaning the associations that words may cause to form in the mind of a receiver-since such associations may also form in the mind in relation to natural non-verbal phenomena (thus visible smoke makes us think of invisible fire, etc.). Husserl sees 'true' language in terms of 'expression', where 'expression' is meaning as willed and intended by an utterer. 'Expression' exists only to
the extent that some individual mind is actually thinking it at the moment of utterance. As Derrida puts it on Husserl's behalf, 'expression . . . is meant, conscious through and through, and intentional'.1 Meaning thus understood is not just meaning in the sense that words mean, but in the sense that someone means them to mean. In the ordinary way, we think of the physical signifier as inhabited and animated by the content of a signified; but Husserl goes beyond this, and insists that the signified itself must be inhabited and animated by an act of consciousness, a wanting-to-say, a 'vouloir-dire'.