Derrida and Deconstruction (Continental Philosophy)
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The worst is a relation that makes of more than one simply one, that makes, out of a division, an indivisible sovereignty. But the structure, for Derrida, can always happen as an event. Agencies such as the International Criminal Court, the demand for universal human rights encroach on nation-state sovereignty. This violence no longer has to do with world war or even with war , even less with some right to wage war.
To be more suicidal is to kill oneself more. The Politics of Friendship , p. This innumerable rejection resembles a genocide or what is worse an absolute threat. The absolute threat can no longer be contained when it comes neither from an already constituted state nor even from a potential state that might be treated as a rogue state Rogues , p.
What Derrida is saying here is that the worst is possible, here and now, more possible than ever. As I said, Derrida always uses the basic argumentation that we have laid out against the idea of the worst; today the tendency towards the worst is greater than ever. The purpose in the application — this purpose defines deconstruction—is to move us towards, not the worst violence, not the most violence, but the least violence Writing and Difference , p. How does the application of the argumentation against the worst work?
We can see in this etymology the inseparable dualities we examined above: singular event and machine-like repeatability; auto-affection as hetero-affection. What we can see in this attempt to conceive the link as it is prior to its determination in terms of man and God is an attempt to make the link be as open as possible. Throughout his career, Derrida is always interested in the status of animality since it determines the limit between man and others.
Here despite the immense influence they have had on his thought, Derrida breaks with both Heidegger and Levinas both of whom did not open the link this wide see Points , p. All are to be treated not as enemies who must be expelled or exterminated, but as friends. Nevertheless, as Derrida constantly stresses, we cannot really identify the friend as such. Unconditional hospitality is dangerous. This danger explains why unconditional openness of the borders is not the best as opposed to what we were calling the worst above ; it is only the less bad or less evil, the less violence.
Indeed, it looks as though the unconditional opening is not possible. There always seems to be factual conditions. Among all the others we must decide, we must assign them papers, which means that there is always, still, necessarily violence at the borders. At once, in hospitality, there is the force that moves towards to the other to welcome and the force to remain unscathed and pulled back from the other, trying to keep the door closed.
We must make one more point. The impossibility of unconditional hospitality means that any attempt to open the globe completely is insufficient. But this deconstruction would be a deconstruction that recognizes its own insufficiency. Deconstruction, to which we now turn, never therefore results in good conscience, in the good conscience that comes with thinking we have done enough to render justice. There Descartes says that for a long time he has been making mistakes.
Jacques Derrida | Jacques Derrida | Philosophy quotes, Critical theory, Continental philosophy
Derrida has provided many definitions of deconstruction. But three definitions are classical. Simply, deconstruction is a criticism of Platonism, which is defined by the belief that existence is structured in terms of oppositions separate substances or forms and that the oppositions are hierarchical, with one side of the opposition being more valuable than the other.
Prior to Derrida, Nietzsche had also criticized this opposition, and it is criticized in a lot of Twentieth Century philosophy. So, in Platonism, essence is more valuable than appearance. In deconstruction however, we reverse this, making appearance more valuable than essence. Here we could resort to empiricist arguments in Hume for example that show that all knowledge of what we call essence depends on the experience of what appears.
But then, this argumentation would imply that essence and appearance are not related to one another as separate oppositional poles. The argumentation in other words would show us that essence can be reduced down to a variation of appearances involving the roles of memory and anticipation.
Now, we can back track a bit in the history of Western metaphysics. On the basis of the reversal of the essence-appearance hierarchy and on the basis of the reduction to immanence, we can see that something like a decision a perhaps impossible decision must have been made at the beginning of the metaphysical tradition, a decision that instituted the hierarchy of essence-appearance and separated essence from appearance. How would this re-inscription or redefinition of appearance work? Here we would have to return to the idea that every appearance or every experience is temporal.
In the experience of the present, there is always a small difference between the moment of now-ness and the past and the future.
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It is perhaps possible that Hume had already discovered this small difference when, in the Treatise , he speaks of the idea of relation. This second definition is less metaphysical and more political. On the one hand, there is the genealogical style of deconstruction, which recalls the history of a concept or theme. Earlier in his career, in Of Grammatology , Derrida had laid out, for example, the history of the concept of writing.
But now what is at issue is the history of justice. On the other hand, there is the more formalistic or structural style of deconstruction, which examines a-historical paradoxes or aporias. Here Derrida in effect is asking: what is freedom. On the one hand, freedom consists in following a rule; but in the case of justice, we would say that a judgment that simply followed the law was only right, not just.
Thus a decision aiming at justice a free decision is both regulated and unregulated. The violent re-institution of the law means that justice is impossible. A decision begins with the initiative to read, to interpret, and even to calculate. The undecidable, for Derrida, is not mere oscillation between two significations.
It is the experience of what, though foreign to the calculable and the rule, is still obligated. We are obligated — this is a kind of duty—to give oneself up to the impossible decision, while taking account of rules and law. Justice therefore is always to come in the future, it is never present. There is apparently no moment during which a decision could be called presently and fully just.
Either it has not followed a rule, hence it is unjust ; or it has followed a rule, which has no foundation, which makes it again unjust ; or if it did follow a rule, it was calculated and again unjust since it did not respect the singularity of the case. This relentless injustice is why the ordeal of the undecidable is never past. Even though justice is impossible and therefore always to come in or from the future, justice is not, for Derrida, a Kantian ideal, which brings us to the third aporia.
A just decision is always required immediately. It cannot furnish itself with unlimited knowledge. The moment of decision itself remains a finite moment of urgency and precipitation. The instant of decision is then the moment of madness, acting in the night of non-knowledge and non-rule. Once again we have a moment of irruptive violence. This urgency is why justice has no horizon of expectation either regulative or messianic. Justice remains an event yet to come. This ability for justice aims however towards what is impossible. It is a kind of thinking that never finds itself at the end.
Here is what Derrida says:. But, this life is not unscathed; it is life in its irreducible connection to death. Thus what deconstruction values is survival. Life and Works 2.
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There is no secret as such; I deny it. And this is what I confide in secret to whomever allies himself to me. This is the secret of the alliance. Languages of the Unsayable , p. Elaboration of the Basic Argumentation: The Worst and Hospitality Throughout his career, Derrida elaborates on the basic argumentation in many ways.
Here is what Derrida says: To deconstruct death, then, that is the subject, while recalling that we do not know what it is, if and when it happens, and to whom. The dream of deconstruction, a convulsive movement to have done with death itself. Not to put into question again the question, what is death? What comes afterward? But to deconstruct death.
Derrida and Deconstruction
Final period. And with the same blow, to come to blows with death and put it out of action. No less than that. Death to death The Death Penalty Volume 1 , pp. La Dissemination , Paris: Seuil, Donner le temps: 1. De la grammatologie , Paris: Minuit, Histoire du mensonge. Marges de la philosophie , Paris: Minuit, Positions , Paris: Minuit, La peine de mort. English translations Acts of Religion , ed. Open Preview See a Problem?
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About the Author
Return to Book Page. Preview — Derrida and Deconstruction by Hugh J. Derrida and Deconstruction by Hugh J. Silverman Editor. The effects of Derrida's writings have been widespread in literary circles, where they have transformed current work in literary theory. By contrast Derrida's philosophical writings--which deal with the whole range of western thought from Plato to Foucault--have not received adequate attention by philosophers. Organized around Derrida's readings of major figures in the his The effects of Derrida's writings have been widespread in literary circles, where they have transformed current work in literary theory.
Organized around Derrida's readings of major figures in the history of philosophy, Derrida and Deconstruction focuses on and assesses his specifically philosophical contribution. Contemporary continental philosophers assess Derrida's account of philosophical tradition, with each contributor providing a critical study of Derrida's position on a philosopher she or he has already studied in depth These figures include Plato, Meister Eckhart, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Foucault.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published March 2nd by Routledge first published March More Details Original Title. Other Editions 7. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. The book's principal theme is an attention to instances of deconstruction other than or beyond Derrida and thus imagining a future for deconstruction after Derrida. This future is both the present of deconstruction and its past.
They also, necessarily, address Derrida's own readings of this work. McQuillan accounts for an experience of otherness in deconstruction that is, has been and always will be beyond Derrida, just as deconstruction remains forever tied to Derrida by an invisible, indestructible thread. You can unsubscribe from newsletters at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in any newsletter.