This is an important new critical analysis of Derrida's theory of writing, based upon close readings of key texts ranging from his stringent critique of structuralist criticism to his sympathetic and dialogical analysis of Freud's scriptural models. It reveals a dimension of Derrida's thinking which, although consistently present in his works, has been neglected in favour of those 'deconstructionist' cliches used in much recent literary criticism. Christopher Johnson highlights the special character of Derrida's philosophy that comes from the fertilising contact that Derrida has had with contemporary natural science and with systems theory. In addition, he shows how Derrida's philosophy of system and writing rejoins an atomist and materialist tradition repressed by centuries of idealist metaphysics. This study casts new light on an exacting set of intellectual issues facing philosophy and critical theory today.