Is hierarchy inevitable when making dichotomous distinctions? Does one term inevitably become the priveleged term and the other its suppressed, subordinated, negative counterpart?
The history of "dichotomous thought" would lend credence to the assertion. The distinctions between Spirit (or F orm) and Matter, between c ulture and nature, between rational mind and prerational b ody, male and female, are all marked hierarchically. Feminist critics have argued that such dichotomizing constitutes an i deology in the strong sense of the term: It is not merely a question of value-laden false beliefs but of beliefs that structure the policies and practices of social institutions, including science.
One corrective is to emphasize complementary elements in tension rather than splitting of opposites.
Elizabeth Grosz (picking up on Lacan) proposes the m etaphor of the Moebius strip as an alternative.
Another, more philosophically radical, is to try to destroy categorical gridding altogether. Deleuze and Guattari seek to reject the copula of sameness/difference for hyperdifferentiation , despite their apparently constant use of dichotomous terms. For D+G, oppositional difference is the same, it is the form of the Same. (Massumi, p.90) According to Massumi, oppositional difference is the most a bstract form of society's homogenizing tendencies. The diacritical thinking that follows de Saussure thinks of linguistic meaning as a system of equivalences, through the use of signs that only have value by virtue of their reciprocal difference, and have no positivity.
De Saussure does differentiate, hower, the oppositions of complete signs (father / mother as both sound and sense) from the pure differences that constitute language. (its double articulation ) (see Cours de Linguistique, p.167)
D+G equate distinctions with segmentarity. For them " primitive" segmentarity is more supple. " modern" segmentarity is more rigid. work through Brian Massumi's discussion in " habit" pp 84-97