Talk:Jacques Derrida/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2


I think the text of this entry is extremely misleading. There is no discussion of any of Derrida's texts or ideas and just a series of quotes from Derrida's critics. It should at least make some attempt to be even-handed.

By all means leap in and make edits to the article :-) -- Tarquin 14:00 Jan 22, 2003 (UTC)
Amen to that. This article started off as a simple biographical reference. But now it's needing some serious neutral POV work. This is a Derrida bashing piece, and that's not fair. Like him or not, he's had his influence. And just because some philosophers don't like him, doesn't diminish that.


It may have started off as a "Derrida bashing" piece, but it's since been transformed into a "Derrida worshipping" piece of hagiography, with no serious attempt to look critically at the man's ideas, so far as they can be made out, or even to state just what those ideas were, in language ordinary people can understand. 17:30, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Serious criticism is not remarking that "Of course, what a person says and what he does are often very different things, so this in itself is hardly a conclusive argument." The remark must be conceded to be more of a post-it note than it was intended to be conclusive, but perhaps you could either take a coherent position rather than complaining about "hagiography", slipping in qualifiers that imply you have a philosophical (rather than editorial) position that you don't render, or either make or just cite some substantial criticisms of Derrida's work, the absence of which you so deplore? Buffyg 19:44, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)
It cannot suffice to take Derrida or anyone else's claims about himself at face value, as if it were indisputably true. 18:36, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Isn't that still a bit overheated and platitudinous, the more so from the IP address that's asked "Where's the beef"? Elsewhere I read: "It's disgraceful the way you critical theory folks attempt to obliterate every trace of criticism of your folk-heroes." Is the beef really more of a pet peeve? Shall I apologize now for holding Derrida in the highest regard? Equally I shouldn't have much hope that I should win strong praise for slipping in that declaration, as the award of such praise would bring else to my cheek than a flush of shame. Neither should I imagine that this assertion of esteem would relieve me from a need to criticize his work or to justify that claim, nor should I imagine that being in any sense indifferent to his death or posthumous defamation might make me a better contributor. Ought I understand from your remarks, excised from the current document or not, that you are reactively dismissive of anyone who exhibits such a sensibility? I should, however, be so humble as to think that I'm going to have to spend a lot more time yet appreciating his work to be able to break the mirror that binds me in a discipleship that is also paradoxically autodidactic.
As for contradiction: any statement risks contradiction with another; that's a pedantic observation left to stand on its own. Might one have more to say about the specifics of an imputed contradiction so to rise above pedantry? You've still not taken a coherent position on any philosophical issue, and the editorial gripes start to seem trifling without and overwrought with the ad hominem considered. It goes without saying that people disagree [with Derrida, even]; there's nothing interesting in leaving that irrefutable and unremarkable fact to stand alone in any tense, nor is there anything interesting, satisfactory, or generally valid in qualifying any claim conceded to him as accepted by his "champions" or contested by his "critics". What exactly do those who disagree with him have to say that might make such disputes interesting or one instance more compelling than another?
There are, moreover, warning signs of an edit war (from which I've wholly abstained thus far and not because I've any sympathy with your editing choices or appreciation for the comments offered with them). After a couple rounds of argument, we've not yet gotten to the end of the second paragraph of "Cogito and the History of Madness" in attempting to read Derrida together. I don't mean to be overreaching in ambition as I hope to settle on revisions for a second draft and continue my research in preparation, so I certainly don't expect to find ourselves in a position to make criticisms that stick based on efforts to date. This exchange bears no promise of speeding this along as it stands. Are you going to assume the burden of philosophical assertion or even provide some recommended reading?
Of course, if you want to discuss hagiography in connection with Derrida, I can add the Cixous book on Derrida to my list of materials to research for the next couple of revisions... Buffyg 02:28, 21 Oct 2004 (UTC)


I deleted the following sentence:

In addition, the modernist scientists Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont have accused him of "scientific incorrectness" in their book Fashionable Nonsense.

As the article on Fashionable Nonsense states, Sokal and Bricmont planned to do this, but eventually dropped the idea. In fact, on page 7 of the book, they write

For example, although the quotation from Derrida contained in Sokal's parody [the paper Transgressing the boundaries, which sparked the Sokal affair] is rather amusing, it is a one-shot abuse; since there is no systematic misuse of (or indeed attention to) science in Derrida's work, there is no chapter on Derrida in this book.

Jitse Niesen 22:20, 5 May 2004 (UTC)


Thanks for the help so far. Not bad for a first draft. The following is part laundry list, part proposed guideline for the work that remains to be done.

Re: NPOV edits. I can buy some but not others and would like to provide some guidelines going forward. This being philosophy, judgement by poorly defined interpretive community ("some", "many") does not seem well-suited. The author of the entry has a responsibility characterize areas of disagreement and to either name sources and/or note a lack of consensus while providing a reasonably precise characterization of the involved parties (although one may be tempted to say "some people don't like Derrida for any discernible reason", Derrida responds to his critics with a good deal more precision). Qualifying an interpretation, however, which is ultimately reflects the author's understanding of the material with a reference to a consensus that may not exist or, more importantly, is judged against an unspecified interpretive community is not helpful, if not misleading and irresponsible (in a sense which is very particular to the subject matter). (Incidentally, this point seems to me entirely consistent with the point made explicit by Bennington with respect to signatures in "Spirit's Spirit Spirits Spirit", where incidentally he does provide some response to the question I quoted.) I need to continue to work over the entry to carry this through (I'm not happy, for example. with the claim that objections to Derrida tend to come from analytic philosophers and scientists or philosophers of science and would like to characterize this more precisely, which brings me to the next point).

There are a number of semi-editorial formulations which you have removed which I intend to re-work and reinstate. The comments about the import and export of philosophies, the protocol of national and international conferences, and Heidegger's more or less explicit disinheritance of English- and French-language readers are matters of varyingly explicit concern to Derrida which I am more than happy to draw out by way of commentary to the "Ends of Man", mention of Derrida's unpublished seminar work on philosophical nationalism , and reference to Lyotard's term geophilosophy in the debates "amongst friends" over Heidegger (which reminds that I need to add refs to the Lacoue-Labarthe and Lyotard books and make an explicit reference to Bennington's "Forever Friends"). These need to be worked out, but I consider this a matter of authorial/interpretive decision particular to the subject matter. Be gentle and feel free to throw this out for discussion and deliberation.

I see the need to break up the article into sections, but I'm not particularly happy with the first cut at organization. That'll need some work.

There have been some comments about contributions to the "deconstruction" page. Not sure what to do about that just yet. Talking about "deconstruction" in the singular without prefixing "Derridean" or "de Manian" or what have you seems to lack caution. For the time being I prefer to offer a definition under the proper name "Derrida". There's already some occasion to talk about the distinctions (via the references to Bennington and Ronell, who has talks about Lyotard's reservations about non-Derridean deconstruction in the text immediately proceeding my quote, and hasty summary of the arguments between Derrida, Lyotard, and Lacoue-Labarthe over Heidegger), but I don't feel entirely prepared to do this just yet.


Buffyg 15:53, 23 Jun 2004 (UTC)

If you're interested, I just brought pretty much this same issue (about "some would say" objections in philosophy articles) on the Wikipedia:WikiProject_Philosophy page, and threw it up for a vote. -Seth Mahoney 18:40, Jun 23, 2004 (UTC)

May 1968

I took out the following sentence:

He is not known to have any involvement in the French "events" of May 1968, unlike many of his colleagues.

I believe that his "involvement" in May 1968 was as much as many of his colleagues; it might be more accurate to say he had a different perspective on it than many of his colleagues; certainly he met Blanchot during a protest at this time, and his essay "Ends of Man" was written at this time; I think it's inaccurate to say it is only influenced by the vietnam war (though certainly that was an important issue that spring; witness Chicago). It would be fair to say he was influenced by events in Czechoslovakia that month as well. I'm not an expert on this question but I'm certain the original entry is misleading.

Yes, the original was misleading. Derrida was involved initially in subscribing to certain documents of protests and attended some of the demonstrations. He is said to have withdrawn as May marched on. The "unlike" may stand, but it needs determination (not to mention correct) characterization. I'm looking for more source material on this; the previous comment was made on thin research. As for Vietnam: there is no intended claim that protest against Vietname is the substance of "The Ends of Man" but that the ability to register his protest against the war was an essential precondition to Derrida's participation in the conference where that essay was first presented. This does demand clarification.

Buffyg 00:29, 9 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Day of death

The Current events page lists Derrida's death on October 9, while this page says it was October 8. Which is correct? roozbeh 22:12, Oct 9, 2004 (UTC)

He died on the 8th (yesterday), and it was announced the 9th (today). -- Rbellin 23:22, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)

(I'm removing a bad joke anonymously posted here -- it seems in especially poor taste to poke fun at the recently deceased. Rbellin 21:30, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC))

He died "during the night Friday to Saturday", that is the 9th (I guess after midnight we may say it another day). According to Deusche welle (,1564,1354775,00.html) ("Er starb in der Nacht zum Samstag ") and Le Monde (,1-0@2-3382,36-382445,0.html) (mort dans la nuit de vendredi à samedi). See French Wikipedia version too. France Info radio said on Saturday (

English news seems to prefer the 8th. According to the Gardian (,6000,1324454,00.html) he died on Friday (BBC too : As Paris is one hour ahead of London, are we in front of a timeline split problem? At what time did he died? between midnight and 1 AM? That may explain why English/American news stay one day behind...

Jerusalem post said he died over the week end (

I guess we should take Paris time...MartinLessard

Copyright on de Man pgph?

I am a bit suspicious of the closeness of this paragraph to the New York Times obituary (page 3). The same claims about the de Man affair, and the same quotes. Is this close enough to be possible infringement? I don't know. (In addition, this probably belongs in the Paul de Man article, not the Derrida one, and it shows a pretty shallow understanding of the issues in any case. This blogger takes it as an example of manifest anti-intellectualism from the Times, and I am inclined to agree.)-- Rbellin 21:57, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I removed the offending paragraph because it was not only plagiarized but factually incorrect and indecent to his memory. I've also made remarks about Times obit in an open letter from my blog. Buffyg 02:02, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)
It's one thing to remove material for plagiarism and incorrectness, but what is this nonsense about it being "indecent to his memory"? If something happens to be true and relevant, it ought to stay in, however unflattering it may be. This is supposed to be an encyclopedia, not a book of condolences. 17:36, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The two are not so easily separable. It is entirely within your power to judge the material which was removed and the article from which it was taken, so there's no point in mooting whether it "happens" to be true. That can be firmly established -- follow the link if you'd like to know more about the facts I've drawn upon. Repeating utterly falsehoods to claim that Derrida might have condoned anti-Semitism or been unable to criticize Heidegger's fascism, particularly by ignoring the fact that so many of these matters had answers from Derrida's hand while he lived, is, however, indecent. No longer discussion or criticism, it's speaking untruth about the man to make points that are no longer properly about Derrida. That's indecent to someone's memory when made part of what claims to present an account of his life and work. Buffyg 19:44, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Like it says no personal attacks. Particularly singled out are edit summaries. Charles Matthews 18:42, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I've taken the opportunity to Remove personal attacks from this discussion, and also commented on the anonymous user's Talk page. I hope we can pursue the shared goal of creating better articles in a friendly spirit and refrain from further hostility. -- Rbellin 20:12, 20 Oct 2004 (UTC)