Deconstruction (French: déconstruction) is a form of philosophical and literary analysis derived principally from Jacques Derrida's 1967 work Of Grammatology. In the 1980s it designated more loosely a range of theoretical enterprises in diverse areas of the humanities and social sciences, including—in addition to philosophy and literature—law, anthropology, historiography, linguistics, sociolinguistics, psychoanalysis, political theory, feminism, and gay and lesbian studies. Deconstruction still has a major influence in the academe of Continental Europe, South America and everywhere Continental philosophy is predominant, particularly in debates around ontology, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, hermeneutics, and the philosophy of language. It also influenced architecture (in the form of deconstructivism), music, art, and art criticism.
Deconstruction denies the possibility of a "pure presence": "the present or presence of sense to a full and primordial intuition". It thus denies the possibility of essential or intrinsic and stable meaning and the unmediated access to "reality". Derrida points that "from the moment that there is meaning there are nothing but signs. We think only in signs". Language, considered as a system of signs, as Ferdinand de Saussure says, is nothing but differences. Rorty contends that "words have meaning only because of contrast-effects with other words...no word can acquire meaning in the way in which philosophers from Aristotle to Bertrand Russell have hoped it might—by being the unmediated expression of something non-linguistic (e.g., an emotion, a sense-datum, a physical object, an idea, a Platonic Form)". Any given concept is thus constituted in reciprocal determination, in terms of its oppositions, e.g. perception/reason, speech/writing, mind/body, interior/exterior, marginal/central, sensible/intelligible, intuition/signification, nature/culture, etc. Derrida terms logocentrism the philosophical commitment to pure, unmediated, presence as a source of self-sufficient meaning.
Further, Derrida contends that "in a classical philosophical opposition we are not dealing with the peaceful coexistence of a vis-a-vis, but rather with a violent hierarchy. One of the two terms governs the other (axiologically, logically, etc.), or has the upper hand": signified over signifier; intelligible over sensible; speech over writing; activity over passivity, etc. The first task of deconstruction, starting with philosophy and afterwards revealing it operating in literary texts, juridical texts, etc, would be to overturn these oppositions. But it is not that the final objective of deconstruction is to surpass all oppositions, because it is assumed they are structurally necessary to produce sense. They simply cannot be suspended once and for all. The hierarchy of dual oppositions always reestablishes itself. But this only points to "the necessity of an interminable analysis" that can make explicit the decisions and arbitrary violence intrinsic to all texts.
Finally, Derrida argues that it is not enough to expose and deconstruct the way oppositions work and how meaning and values are produced, and then stop there in a nihilistic or cynical position regarding all meaning, "thereby preventing any means of intervening in the field effectively". To be effective, deconstruction needs to create new terms, not to synthesize the concepts in opposition, but to mark their difference and eternal interplay. This explains why Derrida always proposes new terms in his deconstruction, not as a free play but as a pure necessity of analysis, to better mark the intervals. Derrida called undecidables, that is, unities of simulacrum, "false" verbal properties (nominal or semantic) that can no longer be included within philosophical (binary) opposition: but which, however, inhabit philosophical oppositions, resisting and organizing it, without ever constituting a third term, without ever leaving room for a solution in the form of speculative dialectics (e.g. différance, archi-writing, pharmakon, supplement, hymen, gram, spacing).
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Deconstruction according to Derrida
- 3 Application of Deconstruction
- 4 Difficulty of Definition
- 5 Influences
- 6 Criticisms
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References (works cited)
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
Derrida's original use of the word "deconstruction" was a translation of Destruktion, a concept from the work of Martin Heidegger that Derrida sought to apply to textual reading. Heidegger's term referred to a process of exploring the categories and concepts that tradition has imposed on a word, and the history behind them. Derrida opted for deconstruction over the literal translation destruction to suggest precision rather than violence.
Deconstruction according to Derrida
Basic philosophical concerns
Derrida’s concerns flow from a consideration of several issues:
- A desire to contribute to the re-valuation of all western values, built on the 18th century Kantian critique of reason, and carried forward to the 19th century, in its more radical implications, by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.
- An assertion that texts outlive their authors, and become part of a set of cultural habits equal to, if not surpassing, the importance of authorial intent.
- A re-valuation of certain classic western dialectics: poetry vs. philosophy, reason vs. revelation, structure vs. creativity, episteme vs. techne, etc.
To this end, Derrida follows a long line of modern philosophers, who look backwards to Plato and his influence on the western metaphysical tradition. Like Nietzsche, Derrida suspects Plato of dissimulation in the service of a political project, namely the education, through critical reflections, of a class of citizens more strategically positioned to influence the polis. However, like Nietzsche, Derrida is not satisfied merely with such a political interpretation of Plato, because of the particular dilemma modern humans find themselves stuck in. His Platonic reflections are inseparably part of his critique of modernity, hence the attempt to be something beyond the modern, because of this Nietzschian sense that the modern has lost its way and become mired in nihilism.
Différance is an important idea within deconstruction, it is the observation that the meanings of words come from their synchronity with other words within the language and their diachrony between contemporary and historical definitions of a word. Understanding language according Derrida required an understanding of both viewpoints of linguistic analysis. The focus on diachronity has led to accusations against Derrida of engaging in the Etymological fallacy.
There is one statement by Derrida which has been of great interest to his opponents, and which appeared in an essay on Rousseau (part of the highly influential Of Grammatology, 1967), It is the assertion that "there is no outside-text" (il n'y a pas de hors-texte), which is often mistranslated as "there is nothing outside of the text". The mistranslation is often used to suggest Derrida believes that nothing exists but words. Michel Foucault, for instance, famously misattributed to Derrida the very different phrase "Il n'y a rien en dehors du text" for this purpose. According to Derrida, his statement simply refers to the unavoidability of context that is at the heart of différance.
For example, the word "house" derives its meaning more as a function of how it differs from "shed", "mansion", "hotel", "building", etc. (Form of Content, that Louis Hjelmslev distinguished from Form of Expression) than how the word "house" may be tied to a certain image of a traditional house (i.e. the relationship between signifier and signified) with each term being established in reciprocal determination with the other terms than by an ostensive description or definition: when can we talk about a "house" or a "mansion" or a "shed"? The same can be said about verbs, in all the languages in the world: when should we stop saying "walk" and start saying "run"? The same happens, of course, with adjectives: when must we stop saying "yellow" and start saying "orange", or exchange "past" for "present? Not only are the topological differences between the words relevant here, but the differentials between what is signified is also covered by différance.
Thus, complete meaning is always "differential" and postponed in language; there is never a moment when meaning is complete and total. A simple example would consist of looking up a given word in a dictionary, then proceeding to look up the words found in that word's definition, etc., also comparing with older dictionaries from different periods in time, and such a process would never end.
Metaphysics of Presence
Derrida describe the task of deconstruction as the identification of metaphysics of presence or logocentrism in western philosophy. Metaphysics of presence is the desire for immediate access to meaning, the privileging of presence over absence. This means that there is an assumed bias in certain binary oppositions where one side is placed in a position of one over another, such as good over bad, speech over the written word, male over female among other oppositions. Derrida writes, "Without a doubt, Aristotle thinks of time on the basis of ousia as parousia, on the basis of the now, the point, etc. And yet an entire reading could be organized that would repeat in Aristotle's text both this limitation and its opposite." To Derrida the central bias of logocentrism was the now being placed as more important than the future or past. This argument is largely based on the earlier work of Heidegger, who in Being and Time claimed that the theoretical attitude of pure presence is parasitical upon a more originary involvement with the world in concepts such as the ready-to-hand and being-with.
Related works by Derrida
Derrida published a number of works directly relevant to the concept of deconstruction, Of Grammatology was the book that introduced the idea of Deconstruction. Derrida went on to write many other books showing deconstruction in action or defining it more completely such as Différance, Speech and Phenomena and Writing and Difference.
Application of Deconstruction
Derrida's observation have had a large influence on literary criticism and post-structuralism.
Derrida's method consisted in demonstrating all the forms and varieties of the originary complexity of semiotics, and their multiple consequences in many fields. His way of achieving this was by conducting thorough, careful, sensitive, and yet transformational readings of philosophical and literary texts, with an ear to what in those texts runs counter to their apparent systematicity (structural unity) or intended sense (authorial genesis). By demonstrating the aporias and ellipses of thought, Derrida hoped to show the infinitely subtle ways that this originary complexity, which by definition cannot ever be completely known, works its structuring and destructuring effects.
Deconstruction denotes the pursuing of the meaning of a text to the point of exposing the supposed contradictions and internal oppositions upon which it is founded—supposedly showing that those foundations are irreducibly complex, unstable, or impossible. It is an approach that may be deployed in philosophy, in literary analysis, and even in the analysis of scientific writings. Deconstruction generally tries to demonstrate that any text is not a discrete whole but contains several irreconcilable and contradictory meanings; that any text therefore has more than one interpretation; that the text itself links these interpretations inextricably; that the incompatibility of these interpretations is irreducible; and thus that an interpretative reading cannot go beyond a certain point. Derrida refers to this point as an "aporia" in the text; thus, deconstructive reading is termed "aporetic." He insists that meaning is made possible by the relations of a word to other words within the network of structures that language is.
Derrida initially resisted granting to his approach the overarching name "deconstruction," on the grounds that it was a precise technical term that could not be used to characterize his work generally. Nevertheless, he eventually accepted that the term had come into common use to refer to his textual approach, and Derrida himself increasingly began to use the term in this more general way.
Critique of Structuralism
Derrida's lecture at Johns Hopkins University, "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Human Sciences," often appears in collections as a manifesto against structuralism. Derrida's essay was one of the earliest to propose some theoretical limitations to structuralism, and to attempt to theorize on terms that were clearly no longer structuralist. Derrida proposed that signs always referred to other signs and there was therefore no ultimate foundation or centre, this is the basis of différance.
Development after Derrida
The Yale School
Between the late 1960s and the early 1980s many thinkers were influenced by deconstruction, including Paul de Man, Geoffrey Hartman, and J. Hillis Miller. This group came to be known as the Yale school and was especially influential in literary criticism. Several of these theorists were subsequently affiliated with the University of California Irvine.
Miller has described deconstruction this way: "Deconstruction is not a dismantling of the structure of a text, but a demonstration that it has already dismantled itself. Its apparently solid ground is no rock, but thin air."
Critical legal studies movement
Arguing that law and politics cannot be separated, the founders of "Critical Legal Studies Movement" found necessary to criticize its absence at the level of theory. To demonstrate the indeterminacy of legal doctrine, these scholars often adopts a method, such as structuralism in linguistics or deconstruction in Continental philosophy, to make explicit the deep structure of categories and tensions at work in legal texts and talk. The aim was to deconstruct the tensions and procedures by which they are constructed, expressed, and deployed.
For example, Duncan Kennedy, in explicit reference to semiotics and deconstruction procedures, maintains that various legal doctrines are constructed around the binary pairs of opposed concepts, each of which with a claim upon intuitive and formal forms of reasoning that must be made explicit, not only in their meaning but also its relative value, and criticized. Self and other, private and public, subjective and objective, freedom and control are examples of such pairs demonstrating the influence of this opposing concepts on the development of legal doctrines through history.
Deconstructive readings of history and sources have changed the entire discipline of history. In "Deconstructing History", Alun Munslow examines history in what he argues is a postmodern age. He provides an introduction to the debates and issues of postmodernist history. He also surveys the latest research into the relationship between the past, history, and historical practice, as well as forwarding his own challenging theories.
The Inoperative Community
Jean-Luc Nancy argues in his 1982 book The Inoperative Community for an understanding of community and society that is undeconstructable because it is prior to conceptualisation. Nancy's work is an important development of deconstruction because it takes the challenge of deconstruction seriously and attempts to develop an understanding of political terms that is undeconstructable and therefore suitable for a philosophy after Derrida.
The Ethics of Deconstruction
Simon Critchley argues in his 1992 book (2nd edition: 1999; 3rd edition: 2014) The Ethics of Deconstruction that Derrida's deconstruction is an intrinsically ethical practice. Critchley argues that deconstruction involves an openness to the Other that makes it ethical in the Levinasian understanding of the term.
Derrida and the Political
Jacques Derrida has had a huge influence on contemporary political theory and political philosophy. Derrida's thinking has inspired Slavoj Zizek, Richard Rorty, Ernesto Laclau, Judith Butler and many more contemporary theorists developed a deconstructive approach to politics. Because deconstruction examines the internal logic of any given text or discourse it helped many authors to analyse the contradictions inherent in all schools of thought, and as such it has proved revolutionary in political analysis, particularly ideology critiques.
Richard Beardsworth, developing on Critchley's Ethics of Deconstruction, argues in his 1996 Derrida and the Political that deconstruction is an intrinsically political practice. He further argues that the future of deconstruction faces a choice (perhaps an undecidable choice) between a theological approach and a technological approach represented first of all by the work of Bernard Stiegler.
Difficulty of Definition
There has been discourse on the problems surrounding the difficulties in defining deconstruction. For example, Derrida himself claimed that all of his essays were attempts to define what deconstruction is, and that deconstruction is necessarily complicated and difficult to explain since it actively criticises the very language needed to explain it.
Deconstruction and Dialectics
In the deconstruction procedure, one of the main concerns of Derrida is not to collapse into Hegel's dialectic where these oppositions would be reduced to contradictions in a dialectic that has the purpose of resolving it into a synthesis.
The presence of Hegelian dialectics was enormous in the intellectual life of France during the second half of the 20th century with the influence of Kojève and Hyppolite, but also with the impact of dialectics based on contradiction developed by Marxists, and including the existentialism from Sartre, etc. This explains Derrida's concern to always distinguish his procedure from Hegel's, since Hegelianism believes binary oppositions would produce a synthesis, while Derrida saw binary oppositions as incapable of collapsing into a synthesis free from the original contradiction.
Derrida's "negative" descriptions
Derrida has been more forthcoming with negative (apophatic) than positive descriptions of deconstruction. When asked by Toshihiko Izutsu some preliminary considerations on how to translate "deconstruction" in Japanese, in order to at least prevent going contrary to its actual meaning, Derrida therefore began his response by saying that such question amounts to "what deconstruction is not, or rather ought not to be."
Derrida states that deconstruction is not an analysis, a critique, or a method in the traditional sense that philosophy understands these terms. In these negative descriptions of deconstruction Derrida is seeking to "multiply the cautionary indicators and put aside all the traditional philosophical concepts." This does not mean that deconstruction has absolutely nothing in common with an analysis, a critique, or a method because while Derrida distances deconstruction from these terms, he reaffirms "the necessity of returning to them, at least under erasure." Derrida's necessity of returning to a term under erasure means that even though these terms are problematic we must use them until they can be effectively reformulated or replaced. The relevance of the tradition of negative theology to Derrida's preference for negative descriptions of deconstruction is the notion that a positive description of deconstruction would over-determine the idea of deconstruction and that this would be a mistake because it would close off the openness that Derrida wishes to preserve for deconstruction. This means that if Derrida were to positively define deconstruction as, for example, a critique then this would put the concept of critique for ever outside the possibility of deconstruction. Some new philosophy beyond deconstruction would then be required in order to surpass the notion of critique.
Not a method
Derrida states that “Deconstruction is not a method, and cannot be transformed into one.” This is because deconstruction is not a mechanical operation. Derrida warns against considering deconstruction as a mechanical operation when he states that “It is true that in certain circles (university or cultural, especially in the United States) the technical and methodological “metaphor” that seems necessarily attached to the very word “deconstruction” has been able to seduce or lead astray.” Commentator Richard Beardsworth explains that:
Derrida is careful to avoid this term [method] because it carries connotations of a procedural form of judgement. A thinker with a method has already decided how to proceed, is unable to give him or herself up to the matter of thought in hand, is a functionary of the criteria which structure his or her conceptual gestures. For Derrida [...] this is irresponsibility itself. Thus, to talk of a method in relation to deconstruction, especially regarding its ethico-political implications, would appear to go directly against the current of Derrida's philosophical adventure.
Beardsworth here explains that it would be irresponsible to undertake a deconstruction with a complete set of rules that need only be applied as a method to the object of deconstruction because this understanding would reduce deconstruction to a thesis of the reader that the text is then made to fit. This would be an irresponsible act of reading because it becomes a prejudicial procedure that only finds what it sets out to find.
Not a critique
Derrida states that deconstruction is not a critique in the Kantian sense. This is because Kant defines the term critique as the opposite of dogmatism. For Derrida it is not possible to escape the dogmatic baggage of the language we use in order to perform a pure critique in the Kantian sense. For Derrida language is dogmatic because it is inescapably metaphysical. Derrida argues that language is inescapably metaphysical because it is made up of signifiers that only refer to that which transcends them — the signified. In addition Derrida asks rhetorically "Is not the idea of knowledge and of the acquisition of knowledge in itself metaphysical?" By this Derrida means that all claims to know something necessarily involve an assertion of the metaphysical type that something is the case somewhere. For Derrida the concept of neutrality is suspect and dogmatism is therefore involved in everything to a certain degree. Deconstruction can challenge a particular dogmatism and hence desediment dogmatism in general, but it cannot escape all dogmatism all at once.
Not an analysis
Derrida states that deconstruction is not an analysis in the traditional sense. This is because the possibility of analysis is predicated on the possibility of breaking up the text being analysed into elemental component parts. Derrida argues that there are no self-sufficient units of meaning in a text. This is because individual words or sentences in a text can only be properly understood in terms of how they fit into the larger structure of the text and language itself. For more on Derrida's theory of meaning see the page on différance.
Derrida states that his use of the word deconstruction first took place in a context in which "structuralism was dominant" and its use is related to this context. Derrida states that deconstruction is an "antistructuralist gesture" because "Structures were to be undone, decomposed, desedimented." At the same time for Derrida deconstruction is also a "structuralist gesture" because it is concerned with the structure of texts. So for Derrida deconstruction involves “a certain attention to structures" and tries to “understand how an 'ensemble' was constituted." As both a structuralist and an antistructuralist gesture deconstruction is tied up with what Derrida calls the "structural problematic." The structural problematic for Derrida is the tension between genesis, that which is "in the essential mode of creation or movement," and structure, "systems, or complexes, or static configurations." An example of genesis would be the sensory ideas from which knowledge is then derived in the empirical epistemology. An example of structure would be a binary opposition such as good and evil where the meaning of each element is established, at least partly, through its relationship to the other element.
It is for this reason that Derrida distances his use of the term deconstruction from post-structuralism, a term that would suggest philosophy could simply go beyond structuralism. Derrida states that “the motif of deconstruction has been associated with "post-structuralism" but that this term was "a word unknown in France until its “return” from the United States." Derrida's deconstruction of Husserl Derrida actually argues for the contamination of pure origins by the structures of language and temporality and Manfred Frank has even referred to Derrida's work as "Neostructuralism."
The popularity of the term deconstruction combined with the technical difficulty of Derrida's primary material on deconstruction and his reluctance to elaborate his understanding of the term has meant that many secondary sources have attempted to give a more straightforward explanation than Derrida himself ever attempted. Secondary definitions are therefore an interpretation of deconstruction by the person offering them rather than a direct summary of Derrida's actual position.
- Paul de Man was a member of the Yale School and a prominent practitioner of deconstruction as he understood it. His definition of deconstruction is that, "[i]t's possible, within text, to frame a question or undo assertions made in the text, by means of elements which are in the text, which frequently would be precisely structures that play off the rhetorical against grammatical elements."
- Richard Rorty was a prominent interpreter of Derrida's philosophy. His definition of deconstruction is that, "the term 'deconstruction' refers in the first instance to the way in which the 'accidental' features of a text can be seen as betraying, subverting, its purportedly 'essential' message." (The word accidental is used here in the sense of incidental.)
- John D. Caputo attempts to explain deconstruction in a nutshell by stating:
"Whenever deconstruction finds a nutshell—a secure axiom or a pithy maxim—the very idea is to crack it open and disturb this tranquility. Indeed, that is a good rule of thumb in deconstruction. That is what deconstruction is all about, its very meaning and mission, if it has any. One might even say that cracking nutshells is what deconstruction is. In a nutshell. ...Have we not run up against a paradox and an aporia [something contradictory]...the paralysis and impossibility of an aporia is just what impels deconstruction, what rouses it out of bed in the morning..." (Caputo 1997, p.32)
- Niall Lucy points to the impossibility of defining the term at all, stating:
"While in a sense it is impossibly difficult to define, the impossibility has less to do with the adoption of a position or the assertion of a choice on deconstruction’s part than with the impossibility of every ‘is’ as such. Deconstruction begins, as it were, from a refusal of the authority or determining power of every ‘is’, or simply from a refusal of authority in general. While such refusal may indeed count as a position, it is not the case that deconstruction holds this as a sort of ‘preference’".
- David B. Allison is an early translator of Derrida and states in the introduction to his translation of Speech and Phenomena:
[Deconstruction] signifies a project of critical thought whose task is to locate and 'take apart' those concepts which serve as the axioms or rules for a period of thought, those concepts which command the unfolding of an entire epoch of metaphysics. 'Deconstruction' is somewhat less negative than the Heideggerian or Nietzschean terms 'destruction' or 'reversal'; it suggests that certain foundational concepts of metaphysics will never be entirely eliminated...There is no simple 'overcoming' of metaphysics or the language of metaphysics.
- Paul Ricœur defines deconstruction as a way of uncovering the questions behind the answers of a text or tradition.
- Richard Ellmann defines 'deconstruction' as the systematic undoing of understanding.
A survey of the secondary literature reveals a wide range of heterogeneous arguments. Particularly problematic are the attempts to give neat introductions to deconstruction by people trained in literary criticism who sometimes have little or no expertise in the relevant areas of philosophy that Derrida is working in relation to. These secondary works (e.g. Deconstruction for Beginners and Deconstructions: A User's Guide) have attempted to explain deconstruction while being academically criticized as too far removed from the original texts and Derrida's actual position. In an effort to clarify the rather muddled reception of the term deconstruction Derrida specifies what deconstruction is not through a number of negative definitions.
Derrida's theories on deconstruction were themselves influenced by the work of linguists such as Ferdinand de Saussure (whose writings on semiotics also became a cornerstone of structuralist theory in the mid-20th century) and literary theorists such as Roland Barthes (whose works were an investigation of the logical ends of structuralist thought). Derrida's views on deconstruction stood opposed to the theories of structuralists such as psychoanalytic theorist Jacques Lacan, linguist Claude Lévi-Strauss, and political and social theorist Michel Foucault. However, Derrida resisted attempts to label his work as "post-structuralist".
Influence of Nietzsche
In order to understand Derrida's motivation, one must refer to Nietzsche's philosophy.
Nietzsche's project began with Orpheus, the man underground. This foil to Platonic light was deliberately and self-consciously lauded in Daybreak, when Nietzsche announces, albeit retrospectively, "In this work you will discover a subterranean man at work," and then goes on to map the project of unreason: "All things that live long are gradually so saturated with reason that their origin in unreason thereby becomes improbable. Does not almost every precise history of an origination impress our feelings as paradoxical and wantonly offensive? Does the good historian not, at bottom, constantly contradict?"
Nietzsche's point in Daybreak is that standing at the end of modern history, modern thinkers know too much to be deceived by the illusion of reason any more. Reason, logic, philosophy and science are no longer solely sufficient as the royal roads to truth. And so Nietzsche decides to throw it in our faces, and uncover the truth of Plato, that he —unlike Orpheus— just happened to discover his true love in the light instead of in the dark. This being merely one historical event amongst many, Nietzsche proposes that we revisualize the history of the west as the history of a series of political moves, that is, a manifestation of the will to power, that at bottom have no greater or lesser claim to truth in any noumenal (absolute) sense. By calling our attention to the fact that he has assumed the role of Orpheus, the man underground, in dialectical opposition to Plato, Nietzsche hopes to sensitize us to the political and cultural context, and the political influences that impact authorship. For example, the political influences that led one author to choose philosophy over poetry (or at least portray himself as having made such a choice), and another to make a different choice.
The problem with Nietzsche, as Derrida sees it, is that he did not go far enough. That he missed the fact that this will to power is itself but a manifestation of the operation of writing. And so Derrida wishes to help us step beyond Nietzsche's penultimate revaluation of all western values, to the ultimate, which is the final appreciation of "the role of writing in the production of knowledge."
Influence of Saussure
Derrida approaches all texts as constructed around elemental oppositions which all discourse has to articulate if it intends to make any sense whatsoever. This is so because identity is viewed in non-essentialist terms as a construct, and because constructs only produce meaning through the interplay of difference inside a "system of distinct signs". This approach to text is influenced by the semiology of Ferdinand de Saussure.
Saussure is considered one of the fathers of structuralism when he explained that terms get their meaning in reciprocal determination with other terms inside language:
In language there are only differences. Even more important: a difference generally implies positive terms between which the difference is set up; but in language there are only differences without positive terms. Whether we take the signified or the signifier, language has neither ideas nor sounds that existed before the linguistic system, but only conceptual and phonic differences that have issued from the system. The idea or phonic substance that a sign contains is of less importance than the other signs that surround it. [...] A linguistic system is a series of differences of sound combined with a series of differences of ideas; but the pairing of a certain number of acoustical signs with as many cuts made from the mass thought engenders a system of values.
Saussure explicitly suggested that linguistics was only a branch of a more general semiology, of a science of signs in general, being human codes only one among others. Nevertheless, in the end, as Derrida pointed out, he made of linguistics "the regulatory model", and "for essential, and essentially metaphysical, reasons had to privilege speech, and everything that links the sign to phone". Derrida will prefer to follow the more "fruitful paths (formalization)" of a general semiotics without falling in what he considered "a hierarchizing teleology" privileging linguistics, and speak of 'mark' rather than of language, not as something restricted to mankind, but as prelinguistic, as the pure possibility of language, working every where there is a relation to something else.
Derrida has been involved in a number of high profile disagreements with prominent philosophers including Michel Foucault, John Searle, Willard Van Orman Quine, Peter Kreeft, and Jürgen Habermas. Most of the criticism of deconstruction were first articulated by these philosophers and repeated elsewhere.
Derrida wrote "Signature Event Context", a paper in which he critically engages with Austin's analytic philosophy of language. John Searle is a prominent supporter of Austin's philosophy and objected to "the low level of philosophical argumentation, the deliberate obscurantism of the prose, the wildly exaggerated claims, and the constant striving to give the appearance of profundity by making claims that seem paradoxical, but under analysis often turn out to be silly or trivial."
In 1988, Derrida wrote "Afterword: Toward An Ethic of Discussion", to be published with the previous essays in the collection Limited Inc. Commenting this critics in a footnote he questioned:
I just want to raise the question of what precisely a philosopher is doing when, in a newspaper with a large circulation, he finds himself compelled to cite private and unverifiable insults of another philosopher in order to authorize himself to insult in turn and to practice what in French is called ajugement d'autorite, that is, the method and preferred practice of all dogmatism. I do not know whether the fact of citing in French suffices to guarantee the authenticity of a citation when it concerns a private opinion. I do not exclude the possibility that Foucault may have said such things, alas! That is a different question, which would have to be treated separately. But as he is dead, I will not in my turn cite the judgment which, as I have been told by those who were close to him, Foucault is supposed to have made concerning the practice of Searle in this case and on the act that consisted in making this use of an alleged citation."
In the main text he argued that Searle avoided reading him and did not try to understand him and even that, perhaps, he was not able to understand, and how certain practices of academic politeness or impoliteness could result in a form of brutality that he disapproved of and would like to disarm, in his fashion.
Much more important in terms of theoretical consequences, Derrida criticized Searle's work for pretending to talk about "intention" without being aware of traditional texts about the subject and without even understanding Husserl's work when talking about it. Because he ignored the tradition he rested blindly imprisoned in it, repeating its most problematic gestures, falling short of the most elementary critical questions.
Derrida would even argue that in a certain way he was more close to Austin, than Searle that, in fact, was more close to Continental philosophers that himself tried to criticize.
Walter A. Davis
The American philosopher Walter A. Davis, in Inwardness and Existence: Subjectivity in/and Hegel, Heidegger, Marx and Freud, argues that both deconstruction and structuralism are prematurely arrested moments of a dialectical movement that issues in Hegelian "unhappy consciousness."
In popular media
Popular criticism of deconstruction also intensified following the Sokal affair, which many people took as an indicator of the quality of deconstruction as a whole, despite the absence of Derrida from Sokal's follow-up book Impostures Intellectuelles.
- Deconstruction and religion
- List of deconstructionists
- Derrida first used the term "Deconstruction" in his work "Of Grammatology", French version, p. 25 (Les Éditions de Minuit, 1967, ISBN 978-2-7073-0012-6). On this page Derrida states that the occidental history of sign is essentially theological with reference to Logocentrism. Derrida starts a metaphysical approach of semiology. He states that the concept of sign and deconstruction work are always exposed to misunderstanding. He uses the term "méconnaissance" probably in reference to Jacques Lacan who rejected the belief that reality can be captured in language. In the same page Derrida states that he will try to demonstrate that there is no linguistic sign without writing.
- http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/155306/deconstruction Encyclopaedia Brittanica
- Derrida, Jacques (1992). "Force of Law". Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice. translated by Mary Quaintance, eds., Drucilla Cornell, Michael Rosenfeld, and David Gray Carlson (1st ed.). New York: Routledge. pp. 3–67. ISBN 0810103974.
A decision that did not go through the ordeal of the undecidable would not be a free decision, it would only be the programmable application or unfolding of a calculable process (...) deconstructs from the inside every assurance of presence, and thus every criteriology that would assure us of the justice of the decision.
- "Critical Legal Studies Movement" in "The Bridge"
- GERMAN LAW JOURNAL, SPECIAL ISSUE: A DEDICATION TO JACQUES DERRIDA, Vol. 6 No. 1 Pages 1 - 243 1 January 2005
- "Legacies of Derrida: Anthropology", Rosalind C. Morris, Annual Review of Anthropology, Volume: 36, pages: 355–89, 2007
- "Deconstructing History", published 1997, 2nd. Edn. Routledge, 2006
- Busch, Brigitt (2012). Linguistic Repertoire Revisited. Applied Linguistics (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
- "The sociolinguistics of schooling: the relevance of Derrida's Monolingualism of the Other or the Prosthesis of Origin", Michael Evans, 01/2012; ISBN 978-3-0343-1009-3 In book: The Sociolinguistics of Language Education in International Contexts, Publisher: Peter Lang, Editors: Edith Esch and Martin Solly, pp. 31–46
- "Deconstruction in Music - The Jacques Derrida", Gerd Zacher Encounter, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2002
- E.g., "Doris Salcedo", Phaidon (2004), "Hans Haacke", Phaidon (2000)
- E.g. "The return of the real", Hal Foster, October - MIT Press (1996); "Kant after Duchamp", Thierry de Duve, October - MIT Press (1996); "Neo-Avantgarde and Cultural Industry - Essays on European and American Art from 1955 to 1975", Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, October - MIT Press (2000); "Perpetual Inventory", Rosalind E. Krauss, October - MIT Press, 2010
- Derrida, Jacques (1981). "Semiology and Grammatology: Interview with Julia Kristeva". Positions. translated and annotated by Alan Bass (1st ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. p. 19. ISBN 0226143317.
Now, "everyday language" is not innocent or neutral. It is the language of Western metaphysics, and it carries with it not only a considerable number of presuppositions of all types, but also presuppositions inseparable from metaphysics, which, although little attended to, are knotted into a system... the equation of the signatum and the concept (p. 99 [by Saussure]), inherently leaves open the possibility of thinking a concept signified in and of itself, a concept simply present for thought, independent of a relationship to language, that is of a relationship to a system of signifiers. By leaving open this possibility-and it is inherent even in the opposition signifier/signified, that is in the sign-Saussure contradicts the critical acquisitions of which we were just speaking. He accedes to the classical exigency of what I have proposed to call a "transcendental signified," which in and of itself, in its essence, would refer to no signifier...
- Evans, J. Claude (1991). Strategies of Deconstruction: Derrida and the Myth of the Voice (1st ed.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pp. xix–xx. ISBN 0816619255.
There is no primal experience we can simply turn to, no neutral language, no neutral critical tools. We thus have to dismantle an understanding of Being that determines our entire epoch, an understanding that has covered over the originary experience of Being to be retrieved. This understanding of Being Heidegger calls the "metaphysics of presence," a prejudice that operates on two levels. On the level of our own self-understanding, it leads us to understand ourselves in terms of the present and neglect our being-toward-the-future...And...to a second level: we identify Being itself with presence. What is real is what is present to us in the present. What is past is not any more; what is future is not yet. Being is experienced as what is available and thus manipulable in the present. Heidegger, however, claims that the very presence of something as something is conditioned by an absence (Being) that makes that presence itself possible. The task of deconstruction is the task of retrieving the experience of this absence that makes presence possible. Derrida takes up this Heideggerian project, but radicalizes it. Unlike Heidegger, Derrida does not appeal to a more primordial living experience or to Being, for to speak of such an experience is inevitably to appeal to a kind of presence...
- Derrida, Jacques (1997). "Chapter 1 The End of the Book and the Beginning of Writing". Of Grammatology. translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Corrected ed.). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 50. ISBN 0801858305.
From the moment that there is meaning there are nothing but signs. We think only in signs. Which amounts to ruining the notion of the sign at the very moment when, as in Nietzsche, its exigency is recognized in the absoluteness of its right. One could call play the absence of the transcendental signified as limitlessness of play, that is to say as the destruction of ontotheology and the metaphysics of presence.
- Derrida, Jacques (1997). "Chapter 1 The End of the Book and the Beginning of Writing". Of Grammatology. translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Corrected ed.). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 48. ISBN 0801858305.
...the genetic root-system refers-from sign to sign. No ground of nonsignification-understood as insignificance or an intuition of a present truth-stretches out to give it foundation under the play and the coming into being of signs.
- Derrida, Jacques (1997). "Chapter 1 The End of the Book and the Beginning of Writing". Of Grammatology. translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Corrected ed.). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 62. ISBN 0801858305.
On the one hand, the phonic element, the term, the plenitude that is called sensible, would not appear as such without the difference or opposition which gives them form...Without a retention in the minimal unit of temporal experience, without a trace retaining the other as other in the same, no difference would do its work and no meaning would appear. It is not the question of a constituted difference here, but rather, before all determination of the content, of the pure movement which produces difference.
- Derrida, Jacques (1981). Positions. translated and annotated by Alan Bass (1st ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. p. 27. ISBN 0226143317.
Differance is the systematic play of differences, of the traces of differences, of the spacing by means of which elements are related to each other. This spacing is the simultaneously active and passive (the a of differance indicates this indecision as concerns activity and passivity, that which cannot be governed by or distributed between the terms of this opposition) production of the intervals without which the "full" terms would not signify, would not function.
- Derrida, Jacques (1997). Of Grammatology. translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Corrected ed.). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 62–3. ISBN 0801858305.
The (pure) trace is differance. It does not depend on any sensible plentitude, audible or visible, phonic or graphic. It is, on the contrary, the condition of such a plenitude. Although it does not exist, although it is never a being-present outside of all plenitude, its possibility is by rights anterior to all that one calls sign (signified/ signifier,content/expression, etc.), concept or opearation, motor or sensory. This differance is therefore not more sensible than intelligible and it permits the articulation of signs among themselves within the same abstract order-a phonic or graphic text for example-or between two orders of expression. It permits the articulation of speech and writing-in the colloquial sense-as it founds the metaphysical opposition between the sensible and the inteligible, then between signifier and signified, expression and content, etc. If language were not already, in that sense, a writing, no derived "notation " would be possible; and the classical problem of relationships between speech and writing could not arise.
- Derrida, Jacques (1981). Positions. translated and annotated by Alan Bass (1st ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. p. 26. ISBN 0226143317.
The play of differences supposes, in effect, syntheses and referrals which forbid at any moment, or in any sense, that a simple element be present in and of itself, referring only to itself. Whether in the order of spoken or written discourse, no element can function as a sign without referring to another element which itself is not simply present. This interweaving results in each "element"-phoneme or grapheme-being constituted on the basis of the trace within it of the other elements of the chain or system. This interweaving, this textile, is the text produced only in the transformation of another text. Nothing, neither among the elements nor within the system, is anywhere ever simply present or absent. There are only, everywhere, differences and traces of traces.
- Derrida, Jacques (2005). "Chapter 10: Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences". Writing and Difference. translated, with an introduction and additional notes, by Alan Bass (Taylor & Francis e-Library ed.). London: Routledge. pp. 353–4. ISBN 0203991788.
Henceforth, it became necessary to think both the law which somehow governed the desire for a center in the constitution of structure, and the process of signification which orders the displacements and substitutions for this law of central presence-but a central presence which has never been itself, has always already been exiled from itself into its own substitute. The substitute does not substitute itself for anything which has somehow existed before it. Henceforth, it was necessary to begin thinking that there was no center, that the center could not be thought in the form of a present-being, that the center had no natural site, that it was not a fixed locus but a function, a sort of nonlocus in which an infinite number of sign-substitutions came into play. This was the moment when language invaded the universal problematic, the moment when, in the absence of a center or origin, everything became discourse-provided we can agree on this word-that is to say, a system in which the central signified, the original or transcendental signified, is never absolutely present outside a system of differences. The absence of the transcendental signified extends the domain and the play of signification infinitely.
- Glendinning, Simon (2004). "Chapter Two: Language". In Reynolds, Jack; Roffe, Jonathan. Understanding Derrida (1st ed.). New York: Continuum. p. 7. ISBN 0826473164.
What Derrida aims to show is that there never was nor could there be such an order of pure intelligibility, no logos or meaning that would be an ideal presence, pre-existing and occult...
- Saussure, Ferdinand de (1916). Course in General Linguistics [trans. 1959]. New York: New York Philosophical Library. pp. 121–2.
In language there are only differences. Even more important: a difference generally implies positive terms between which the difference is set up; but in language there are only differences without positive terms. Whether we take the signified or the signifier, language has neither ideas nor sounds that existed before the linguistic system, but only conceptual and phonic differences that have issued from the system.
- Rorty, Richard (1995). "Deconstructionist Theory". From Formalism to Poststructuralism 8. Cambridge University Press.
That is, words have meaning only because of contrast-effects with other words. 'Red' means what it does only by contrast with 'blue', 'green', etc. 'Being' also means nothing except by contrast, not only with 'beings' but with 'Nature', 'God', 'Humanity', and indeed every other word in the language. No word can acquire meaning in the way in which philosophers from Aristotle to Bertrand Russell have hoped it might -- by being the unmediated expression of something non-linguistic (e.g., an emotion, a sense-datum, a physical object, an idea, a Platonic Form) (...)
This is not, of course, to say that there is no such thing as linguistic reference to non-language. But merely to repeat Wittgenstein's point that ostensive definition requires a lot of 'stage-setting'. The common-sense claim that 'There's a rabbit' is typically uttered in the presence of rabbits is undermined neither by Wittgenstein's point, nor by Quine's arguments about the inscrutability of reference, nor by Derrida's about the tendency of the signifier to slip away from the signified. For the impact of such arguments on the notion of meaning, see Stout, 'Meaning', and Wheeler, 'Extension'.
- Derrida, Jacques (2005). "Chapter 7: Freud and the Scene of Writing". Writing and Difference. translated, with an introduction and additional notes, by Alan Bass (Taylor & Francis e-Library ed.). London: Routledge. p. 276. ISBN 0203991788.
The model of hieroglyphic writing assembles more strikingly—though we find it in every form of writing—the diversity of the modes and functions of signs in dreams. Every sign—verbal or otherwise—may be used at different levels, in configurations and functions which are never prescribed by its "essence," but emerge from a play of differences.
- Derrida, Jacques (1981). Positions. translated and annotated by Alan Bass (1st ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. p. 26. ISBN 0226143317.
At the point at which the concept of differance, and the chain attached to it, intervenes, all the conceptual oppositions of metaphysics (signifier/signified; sensible/intelligible; writing/speech; passivity/activity; etc.)- to the extent that they ultimately refer to the presence of something present (for example, in the form of the identity of the subject who is present for all his operations, present beneath every accident or event, self-present in its "living speech," in its enunciations, in the present objects and acts of its language, etc.)- become non pertinent. They all amount, at one moment or another, to a subordination of the movement of differance in favor of the presence of a value or a meaning supposedly antecedent to differance, more original than it, exceeding and governing it in the last analysis. This is still the presence of what we called above the "transcendental signified.
- Rorty, Richard (1995). "Deconstructionist Theory". From Formalism to Poststructuralism 8. Cambridge University Press.
Derrida says of the logocentric philosophers who hold out this hope of immediacy: 'Univocity is the essence, or better, the telos of language. No philosophy has ever renounced this Aristotelian ideal. This ideal is philosophy.' (Margins, p. 247) To succeed in twisting free of the logocentric tradition would be to write, and to read, in such a way as to renounce this ideal. To destroy the tradition would be to see all the texts of that tradition as self-delusive, because using language to do what language cannot do. Language itself, so to speak, can be relied upon to betray any attempt to transcend it (see Derrida, Writing, pp. 278-81).
- Derrida, Jacques (1997). "Chapter 1 The End of the Book and the Beginning of Writing". Of Grammatology. translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Corrected ed.). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 12. ISBN 0801858305.
We already have a foreboding that phonocentrism merges with the historical determination of the meaning of being in general as presence, with all the subdeterminations which depend on this general form and which organize within it their system and their historical sequence (presence of the thing to the sight as eidos, presence as substance/essence/existence ousia, temporal presence as point [stigme] of the now or of the moment [nun], the self-presence of the cogito, consciousness, subjectivity, the co-presence of the other and of the self, intersubjectivity as the intentional phenomenon of the ego, and so forth). Logocentrism would thus support the determination of the being of the entity as presence. To the extent that such a Logocentrism is not totally absent from Heidegger's thought, perhaps it still holds that thought within the epoch of onto-theology, within the philosophy of presence, that is to say within philosophy itself.
- Derrida, Jacques (1997). "Chapter 1 The End of the Book and the Beginning of Writing". Of Grammatology. translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Corrected ed.). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 7. ISBN 0801858305.
The secondarity that it seemed possible to ascribe to writing alone affects all signifieds in general, affects them always already, the moment they enter the game. There is not a single signified that escapes the play of differance.
- Derrida, Jacques (1981). Positions. translated and annotated by Alan Bass (1st ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. p. 41. ISBN 0226143317.
...in a classical philosophical opposition we are not dealing with the peaceful coexistence of a vis-a-vis, but rather with a violent hierarchy. One of the two terms governs the other (axiologically, logically, etc.), or has the upper hand.
- Derrida, Jacques (1981). "Interview with Jean-Louis Houdebine and Guy Scarpetta". Positions. translated and annotated by Alan Bass (1st ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. p. 41. ISBN 0226143317.
When I say that this phase is necessary, the word phase is perhaps not the most rigorous one. It is not a question of a chronological phase, a given moment, or a page that one day simply will be turned, in order to go on to other things. The necessity of this phase is structural; it is the necessity of an interminable analysis: the hierarchy of dual oppositions always reestablishes itself. Unlike those authors whose death does not await their demise, the time for overturning is never a dead letter.
- Derrida, Jacques (1981). "Interview with Jean-Louis Houdebine and Guy Scarpetta". Positions. translated and annotated by Alan Bass (1st ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. p. 41. ISBN 0226143317.
Therefore one might not proceed too quickly to a neutralization that in practice would leave the previous field untouched, leaving one no hold on the previous opposition, thereby preventing any means of intervening in the field effectively. We know what always have been the practical (particularly political) effects of Immediately jumping beyond oppositions, and of protests in the simple form of neither this nor that.
- Derrida, Jacques (1981). "Interview with Jean-Louis Houdebine and Guy Scarpetta". Positions. translated and annotated by Alan Bass (1st ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. p. 19. ISBN 0226143317.
I have called undecidables, that is, unities of simulacrum, "false" verbal properties (nominal or semantic) that can no longer be included within philosophical (binary) opposition, but which, however, inhabit philosophical oppositions, resisting and disorganizing it, without ever constituting a third term, without ever leaving room for a solution in the form of speculative dialectics (the pharmakon is neither remedy nor poison, neither good nor evil, neither the inside nor the outside, neither speech nor writing; the supplement is neither a plus nor a minus, neither an outside nor the complement of an inside, neither accident nor essence, etc.; the hymen is neither confusion nor distinction (neither identity nor difference, neither consummation nor virginity, neither the veil nor unveiling, neither the inside nor the outside, etc.; the gram is neither a signifier nor a signified, neither a sign nor a thing, neither a presence nor an absence, neither a position nor a negation, etc.; spacing is neither space nor time; the incision is neither the incised integrity of a beginning, or of a simple cutting into, nor simple secondarity. Neither/nor: that is simultaneously either or; the mark is also the marginal limit, the march, etc.). In fact, I attempt to bring the critical operation to bear against the unceasing reappropriation of this work of the simulacrum by a dialectics of the Hegelian type (Which even idealizes and "semantizes" the value of work), for Hegelian idealism consists precisely of a releve of the binary oppositions of classical idealism, a resolution of contradiction into a third term that comes in order to aufheben, to deny while raising up, while idealizing, while sublimating into an anamnesic interiority (Errinnerung), while interning difference in a self-presence."...
- Martin Heidegger (1927) Being and Time, Introduction, part II.5, § 21-23
- Post-Modern Platos by Catherine H. Zuckert, Chigago: University of Chicago Press, 1996, chapter 7.
- Soskice, Janet M (1987), Metaphor and Religious Language, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0198249825, pp. 80-82.
- Derrida (1967) Of Grammatology, Part II "Introduction to the "Age of Rousseau," section 2 "...That Dangerous Supplement...", title: "The Exorbitant. Question of Method:, pp. 158–59, 163
- "Mon corps, ce papier, ce feu," in the 1972 edition of Foucault's Histoire de la folie à l’âge classique (Paris: Gallimard, p. 602)
- Derrida (1988), Afterword, p. 136.
- "Ousia and Grammē: Note on a Note from 'Being and Time,'" in "Margins of Philosophy," 29-67: 61
- Rodolphe Gasché, "Infrastructures and Systematicity," in John Sallis (ed.), Deconstruction and Philosophy (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1987), pp. 3–4:
One of the more persistent misunderstandings that has thus far forestalled a productive debate with Derrida's philosophical thought is the assumption, shared by many philosophers as well as literary critics, that within that thought just anything is possible. Derrida's philosophy is more often than not construed as a license for arbitrary free play in flagrant disregard of all established rules of argumentation, traditional requirements of thought, and ethical standards binding upon the interpretative community. Undoubtedly, some of the works of Derrida may not have been entirely innocent in this respect, and may have contributed, however obliquely, to fostering to some extent that very misconception. But deconstruction which for many has come to designate the content and style of Derrida's thinking, reveals to even a superficial examination, a well-ordered procedure, a step-by-step type of argumentation based on an acute awareness of level-distinctions, a marked thoroughness and regularity. [...] Deconstruction must be understood, we contend, as the attempt to "account," in a certain manner, for a heterogeneous variety or manifold of nonlogical contradictions and discursive equalities of all sorts that continues to haunt and fissure even the successful development of philosophical arguments and their systematic exposition.
- Marian Hobson, Jacques Derrida: Opening Lines, Routledge, 2012, p. 51.
- Mark Currie, The Invention of Deconstruction, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, p. 80.
- Ramberg, Bjørn and Kristin Gjesdal, "Hermeneutics", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2003, 2005.
- Derrida, "Structure, Sign, and Play" (1966), as printed/translated by Macksey & Donato (1970)
- J. Hillis Miller, "Stevens' Rock and Criticism as Cure," Georgia Review 30 (1976), p. 34.
- "Critical Legal Studies Movement" in "The Bridge"
- "Deconstructing History", published 1997, 2nd. Edn. Routledge, 2006)
- Critchley, Simon (18 March 2014). The Ethics of Deconstruction: Derrida and Levinas, 3rd Edition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 352. ISBN 9780748689323.
- The Politics of Deconstruction: Jacques Derrida and the Other of Philosophy [Paperback] Martin McQuillan (Editor)
- Derrida, 1985, p. 4
- Cf. Jacques Derrida, "Interview with Jean-Louis Houdebine and Guy Scarpetta," in “Positions” (The University of Chicago Press, 1981), p. 43:
If there were a definition of differance, it would be precisely the limit, the interruption, the destruction of the Hegelian releve wherever it operates. What is at stake here is enormous. I emphasize the Hegelian Aufhebung, such as it is interpreted by a certain Hegelian discourse, for it goes without saying that the double meaning of Aufhebung could be written otherwise. Whence its proximity to all the operations conducted against Hegel's dialectical speculation.
- Cf. Jacques Derrida, "Interview with Jean-Louis Houdebine and Guy Scarpetta," in “Positions” (The University of Chicago Press, 1981), p. 43.
- Derrida , p. 1
- Derrida , p. 3
- Beardsworth, R. 1996. Derrida and the Political. London and New York: Routledge, p. 4.
- Derrida, J., 1973. Speech and Phenomena. Trans. D.B. Allison. Evanston: Northwestern UP, p. 5.
- Derrida , p. 2
- Derrida, J., 1978. "'Genesis and Structure' and Phenomenology" from Writing and Difference trans. Alan Bass. London & New York: Routledge, p. 194.
- Derrida, J., 1978. "'Genesis and Structure' and Phenomenology" from Writing and Difference trans. Alan Bass. London & New York: Routledge, p. 194.
- Frank, M., 1989. What is Neostructuralism? Trans. S. Wilke & R. Gray. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
- De Man, in Moynihan 1986, p. 156.
- Rorty 1995[page needed]
- Niall Lucy, A Derrida Dictionary (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004).
- Introduction by Allison, in Derrida, 1973, p. xxxii, n. 1.
- Klein 1995[page needed]
- Powell, James and Lee, Joe, Deconstruction for Beginners (Writers & Readers Publishing, 2005)
- Royle, Nicholas, Deconstructions: A User's Guide (Palgrave Macmillan, 2000)
- Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality. Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by R.J. Hollisdale. Cambridge University Press, 1997.
- Royle, Nicholas (2004) Jacques Derrida, Routledge, 2003, pp. 62–63
- Derrida and Ferraris (1997), p. 76:
I take great interest in questions of language and rhetoric, and I think they deserve enormous consideration; but there is a point where the authority of final jurisdiction is neither rhetorical nor linguistic, nor even discursive. The notion of trace or of text is introduced to mark the limits of the linguistic turn. This is one more reason why I prefer to speak of 'mark' rather than of language. In the first place the mark is not anthropological; it is prelinguistic; it is the possibility of language, and it is every where there is a relation to another thing or relation to an other. For such relations, the mark has no need of language.
- Cf. Jacques Derrida, "Interview with Julia Kristeva" in "Positions" (The University of Chicago Press, 1981), p. 21:
Although Saussure recognized the necessity of putting the phonic substance between brackets ("What is essential in language, we shall see, is foreign to the phonic character of the linguistic sign" [p. 21]. "In its essence it [the linguistic signifier] is not at all phonic" [p. 164]), Saussure, for essential, and essentially metaphysical, reasons had to privilege speech, everything that links the sign to phone. He also speaks of the "natural link" between thought and voice, meaning and sound (p. 46). He even speaks of "thought-sound" (p. 156). I have attempted elsewhere to show what is traditional in such a gesture, and to what necessities it submits. In any event, it winds up contradicting the most interesting critical motive of the Course, making of linguistics the regulatory model, the "pattern" for a general semiology of which it was to be, by all rights and theoretically, only a part. The theme of the arbitrary, thus, is turned away from its most fruitful paths (formalization) toward a hierarchizing teleology: "Thus it can be said that entirely arbitrary signs realize better than any others the ideal of the semiological process; this is why language, the most complex and most widespread of the systems of expression, is also the most characteristic one of them all; in this sense linguistics can become the general pattern for all semiology, even though language is only a particular system" (p. 101). One finds exactly the same gesture and the same concepts in Hegel. The contradiction between these two moments of the Course is also marked by Saussure's recognizing elsewhere that "it is not spoken language that is natural to man, but the faculty of constituting a language, that is, a system of distinct signs ... ," that is, the possibility of the code and of articulation, independent of any substance, for example, phonic substance.
- "An Exchange on Deconstructionism", The New York Review of Books, Vol. 1 #34, February 2, 1984.
...anyone who reads deconstructive texts with an open mind is likely to be struck by the same phenomena that initially surprised me: the low level of philosophical argumentation, the deliberate obscurantism of the prose, the wildly exaggerated claims, and the constant striving to give the appearance of profundity by making claims that seem paradoxical, but under analysis often turn out to be silly or trivial.
- Derrida, Jacques. Limited, Inc. Northwestern University Press, 1988, p. 158.
- Jacques Derrida, "Afterwords" in 'Limited, Inc.' (Northwestern University Press, 1988), p. 158,
beneath an often quite manifest exterior, Searle had read me, or rather avoided reading me and trying to understand. And why, perhaps, he was not able to read me, why this inability was exemplary and symptomatic. And for him lasting, doubtless irreversible, as I have since learned through the press. In a more general way, I wanted to show how certain practices of academic politeness or impoliteness could result in a form of brutality that I disapprove of and would like to disarm, in my fashion. To put it even more generally, and perhaps more essentially, I would have wished to make legible the (philosophical, ethical, political) axiomatics hidden beneath the code of academic discussion.
- Jacques Derrida, "Afterwords" in 'Limited, Inc.' (Northwestern University Press, 1988), p. 130,
My frequenting of philosophies and phenomenologies of intentionality, beginning with that of Husserl, has only caused my uncertainty to increase, as well as my distrust of this word or of this figure, I hardly dare to say "concept." And since that time, Searle's book on intentionality (1983) has not helped me, not in the slightest, to dispel these concerns.
I did not read it without interest, far from it. I am even ready to admire how the author of a book bearing this title, Intentionality, could choose, as he declares at the very outset, in the Introduction, to "pass over in silence" "whole philosophical movements" which "have been built around theories of intentionality," avowing, as one of his reasons, " ignorance of most of the traditional writings on Intentionality" (p. ix). Something that is indeed evident in reading the seven lines devoted to Husserl in this book of three hundred pages.
- Jacques Derrida, "Afterwords" in Limited, Inc. (Northwestern University Press, 1988), p. 131
I now have to add this: it is often because "Searle" ignores this tradition or pretends to take no account of it that he rests blindly imprisoned in it, repeating its most problematic gestures, falling short of the most elementary critical questions, not to mention the deconstructive ones. It is because in appearance at least "I" am more of a historian that I am a less passive, more attentive and more "deconstructive" heir of that so-called tradition. And hence, perhaps again paradoxically, more foreign to that tradition. I put quotation marks around "Searle" and I to mark that beyond these indexes, I am aiming at tendencies, types, styles, or situations rather than at persons.
- Jacques Derrida, "Afterwords" in 'Limited, Inc.' (Northwestern University Press, 1988) (Northwestern University Press, 1988), p. 131,
Searle had written, "It would be a mistake, I think, to regard Derrida's discussion of Austin as a confrontation between two prominent philosophical traditions."
I agree with the letter if not with the intention of this declaration, having made it clear that I sometimes felt, paradoxically, closer to Austin than to a certain Continental tradition from which Searle, on the contrary, has inherited numerous gestures and a logic I try to deconstruct.
- Jürgen Habermas (1987), The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (trans. Frederick Lawrence), MIT Press, ISBN 0-7456-0830-2, pp. 185–210.
- Davis, Walter A. Inwardness and Existence: Subjectivity in/and Hegel, Heidegger, Marx and Freud. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1989.[page needed]
- Sokal, Alan D. (May 1996). "A Physicist Experiments With Cultural Studies". Lingua Franca. Retrieved April 3, 2007.
References (works cited)
- Derrida, Jacques  (1978). Of Grammatology, trans. by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-5830-7
- Derrida, Jacques. Speech and Phenomena and Other Essays on Husserl's Theory of Signs. Trans. David B. Allison. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 1973. ISBN 978-0-8101-0590-4.
- Derrida, Jacques. Positions. Trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1981. ISBN 978-0-226-14331-6
- Derrida , The time of a thesis: punctuations, first published in:
- Derrida , Limited Inc
- Derrida , Eyes of the University: Right to Philosophy 2, pp. 113–128
- Derrida, Jacques , Letter to A Japanese Friend, in Wood, David and Bernasconi, Robert (eds., 1988) Derrida and Différance, Warwick: Parousia, 1985
- Klein, Anne Carolyn (1995), Meeting the Great Bliss Queen: Buddhists, Feminists, and the Art of the Self. Boston: Beacon, 1995. ISBN 978-0-8070-7306-3.
- Montefiore, Alan (ed., 1983), Philosophy in France Today Cambridge: Cambridge UP, pp. 34–50
- Moynihan, Robert (1986), Recent Imagining: Interviews with Harold Bloom, Geoffrey Hartman, Paul De Man, J. Hillis Miller. Shoe String, 1986. ISBN 978-0-208-02120-5.
- Rorty, Richard, "From Formalism to Poststructuralism". The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, vol. 8. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995.
- Breckman, Warren, "Times of Theory: On Writing the History of French Theory," Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 71, no. 3 (July 2010), 339–361 (online).
- Critchley, Simon. The Ethics of Deconstruction: Derrida and Levinas, Third Edition, 2014. ISBN 978-0-7486-8932-3.
- Culler, Jonathan. On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism, Cornell University Press, 1982. ISBN 978-0-8014-1322-3.
- Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction, University of Minnesota Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0-8166-1251-2
- Ellis, John M.. Against Deconstruction, Princeton: Princeton UP, 1989. ISBN 978-0-691-06754-4.
- Johnson, Barbara. The Critical Difference: Essays in the Contemporary Rhetoric of Reading. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981. ISBN 978-0-801-82458-6
- Reynolds, Simon, Rip It Up and Start Again, New York: Penguin, 2006, pp. 316. ISBN 978-0-143-03672-2. (Source for the information about Green Gartside, Scritti Politti, and deconstructionism.)
- Stocker, Barry, Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Derrida on Deconstruction, Routledge, 2006. ISBN 978-1-134-34381-2
- Wortham, Simon Morgan, The Derrida Dictionary, Continuum, 2010. ISBN 978-1-847-06526-1
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Deconstruction|
- The dictionary definition of deconstruction at Wiktionary
- Video of Jacques Derrida attempting to define "Deconstruction"
- "Deconstruction" in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- "Deconstruction" in Stanford Presidential Lectures in the Humanities and Arts
- "Deconstruction" in Encyclopedia Britannica"
- "Deconstructing History" by Alun Munslow
- "Deconstruction" in "Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy"
- "Deconstructionist Theory" by Richard Rorty
- "German Law Journal special number about Derrida and Deconstruction"
- "Critical Legal Studies Movement" and the use of Deconstruction"
- "Deconstruction: Some Assumptions" by John Lye
- A Bibliography of Literary Theory, Criticism, and Philology by José Ángel García Landa (Deconstruction found under: Authors & Schools - Critics & Schools - Poststructuralism - On Deconstruction)
- Ten ways of thinking about deconstruction by Willy Maley
- Archive of the international conference "Deconstructing Mimesis - Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe" about the work of Lacoue-Labarthe and his mimetic version of deconstruction, held at the Sorbonne in January 2006
- How To Deconstruct Almost Anything - My Postmodern Adventure by Chip Morningstar; a cynical introduction to 'deconstruction' from the perspective of a software engineer.
- Jacques Derrida: The Perchance of a Coming of the Otherwoman. The Deconstruction of Phallogocentrism from Duel to Duo by Carole Dely, English translation by Wilson Baldridge, at Sens Public
- Ellen Lupton on deconstruction in Graphic Design
- Deconstruction of fashion; La moda en la posmodernidad by Adolfo Vasquez Rocca
- Derrida: Deconstrucción, différance y diseminación; una historia de parásitos, huellas y espectros Academia.Edu