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A philosopher who cuts the ground from the under of philosophy's feet
by Nasrin Pourhamrang
2009-03-03 07:56:51
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The poet-mannered philosopher who has provoked both the extremist hostility and the vigorous bias to an almost identical degree is an Algerian-Frenchman who was born in 1930, Algeria. He is ranked as a scholar of linguistic philosophy, metaphysics, aesthetics, phenomenology and post-structuralism. Studied in Ecol Normal Superior and Harvard, Jacques Derrida was influenced by Sartre, Husserl and Heidegger and Saussure in linguistics, as well. His main enthusiasm, for which many British figures of philosophy deny him as a photosphere, is deconstructionism.

Derrida who was chiefly influential among the literary critics and cultural theorists rather than the philosophy pundits and rhetoricians is considered to be the founder and representative of "deconstructionism" theory, an analyze-based method of evaluating the texts and structures in order to demonstrate the volatility and instability of the concept.

Derrida stages an unconditional insurgency against the theory of traditional philosophy. If the pervasive concern of philosophy is to land up the truth, the cognition of Derrida undermines this concern and discounts it. In his view, there is no absolute truth; "logic" and "mind" as what are deemed the instruments of recognizing the reality and truth in philosophy are parts of linguistic play, not a segregated realm or against it.

The foundation of western traditional philosophy is based on the dualities which have long been the criteria and scale of judgements and recognitions descending from Socrates and Plato hitherto.

Derrida and his cohorts denounce such binary oppositions such as object and subject, in and out, body and soul, male and female, culture and nature, minus and logos and rhetoric and logic and destabilize the bases of western philosophical traditions' creeds.

Derrida points a finger at these dualities and deprecates them to conclude that they have no privilege on each other; that not only could the logic surmount the eloquence and rhetoric, but also the rational reasoning and logic shape a substantive part of eloquent rhetoric.

When you count what is called "rationale" and "logic" as a part of eloquence techniques, then you cannot call for the availability of cognition and the issuance of an integrated, categorical conclusion; then the access of philosophy to premises would be nothing but an illusion and coming up with an ultimate understanding would be a dream which one had better to brace for its confusion instead of a hope for its exegesis or fulfilment.

In his book "positions" Derrida propounds: "In the traditional philosophical confrontations, we do not face the peaceful co-existence of confronting words but with an indignant hierarchy through which either of the two words dominates the other from an ethical or logical aspect and stands in a superior position. Deconstructing these confronting concepts is mainly the overthrowing of the hierarchy than anything else."  

The consequence of such a theory is that one can inspect the philosophical works like the literary compositions and publicize the fundamental contraventions philosophy. Searching through the messages and categorical premises of the philosophical texts is something futile for the reason that what these texts consider as "frankness" is nothing but the rhetorical eloquence.

Jonathan Collar, one of the cohorts and describers of Derrida's viewpoints elucidates accordingly: "The deconstructing of a dialogue means to indicate that how that specific dialogue destroys the philosophical context or its fundamental confrontations. For such a purpose, deconstruction should recognize that rhetorical features which are liable to purvey the key concepts, preliminaries or the rational foundations of that dialogue."

They examine each dialogue from the viewpoint of a poetic language. In such a situation, science, philosophy and literature integrate collectively and become examined based upon a unique and single pattern.

However, the critics believe that Derrida's deconstructionism both damages the philosophy and literary review and causes them dysfunction, as well. Either they call it ineffective in the arena of politics and ethics. Meanwhile Derrida believed himself: "Justice, if such thing exists externally, is beyond the official systems and is not prone to be deconstructed, just alike the deconstructionism which is not deconstructable itself; deconstructionism is the very justice."

Derrida wants to hand down whatever constructed to the process of deconstructionism, destabilize it and revolutionize its meaning. The prevalent apprehension of his mind is the matter of metaphysics and fighting with essentialism. He intends to transform the customary and conventional interpretations of mind, objectivity, concept, meaning etc yet does not seek a new series of constructions. Not only is he inattentive toward the construction, but also is usually being accused of prolixity and loquacity; that his conceptions are rather the manipulation of words instead of philosophical reasoning.

As it was stressed at the beginning, his influence over the critics of literary schools is more excessive and significant than those impacts which he has made upon the philosophers. Some decent examples are his impressions on the critics of Yale, Harold Bloom, Paul De Man, Hillis Miller and Geoffrey Hartman schools in the US where most of his academic prosperity either took place.

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Emanuel Paparella2009-03-03 12:25:53
“As it was stressed at the beginning, his influence over the critics of literary schools is more excessive and significant than those impacts which he has made upon the philosophers. Some decent examples are his impressions on the critics of Yale, Harold Bloom, Paul De Man, Hillis Miller and Geoffrey Hartman schools in the US where most of his academic prosperity either took place.”

Assuming that the word “decent” above is a typo meant as “recent,” one is led to conclude that this article was written some thirty years ago and kept in Ms. Pourhamrang's desk all that time. For it has been that long ago when all the scholars mentioned by name were at Yale as enthusiastic proponents of the school of deconstructionism, the reigning literary vogue of the time at Yale, and Derrida would show up almost every year for a lecture. I know because I was there at the time and saw these men on campus almost on a daily basis. One of them, Paul De Man, has been dead since 1984 and so is Derrida since 2004.

Emanuel Paparella2009-03-03 12:38:38
On the intriguing lead caption stating that “there is no absolute truth,” surely the readers must be wondering if that preposition is itself a relative truth and therefore living open the possibility that there is such thing as absolute truth. Indeed the issue of truth in Derrida is a thorny one and Derrida for one would never leave it at that. It would be enough to look at the link below:


Those who have no time or motivation to open the link, may wish to consider this excerpt from it:

“Anti-dogmatism merely inverts the over-direct procedures of dogmatism. It corresponds to what Derrida calls ‘anti-castration’: ‘Woman’… no more believes in castration’s exact opposite, anti-castration, than she does in castration itself. Much too clever for that… she knows that such a reversal would… only amount to the same thing and force her just as surely as ever into the same old apparatus. (61)

In veiled polemic against Lacan on the one hand and Deleuze on the other, Derrida declares that the metaphysical notions of truth-presence function as fetishes aiming to supplement and hide the lack of phallus of truth as woman; but that if one rebels against truth, seen as castrating, one falls into the phallocentrism which inspires this denial. Reduced to a fiction truth is still something under our control. But ‘castration does not take place’ (61); the ‘il faut’ of truth, as the ‘law’ of judgement’ cannot be fixed in a stable, fetishised way. We are caught in its play without being able to master it, either by raising it to dogmatic certitude or unmasking it as illusion.

Emanuel Paparella2009-03-03 17:14:18
Errata: leaving. Also: De Man has been dead since 1983.

Emanuel Paparella2009-03-03 17:18:58
Errata: proposition.

AP2009-03-04 20:27:28
Well "you were there and saw them on the campus almost every day" - nothing beats that argument.

Emanuel Paparella2009-03-05 13:22:13
You missed the point Ms. Pereira. The point was not that unavoidably I pumped in those men quite often, the point rather is a bit further on, that both De Man and Derrida have been long dead but the article is written in the present tense mode as if what is being described is happening right now. Indeed, if truth be told and if truth is not relative to one's pet ideology, one cannot argue with death. She check mates us at chess every time, even if one's youth may lead to delusions of immortality.

Emanuel Paparella2009-03-05 13:23:26
Errata: bumped.

Emanuel Paparella2009-03-05 13:31:47
P.S. Moreover, the words you cavalierly put in my mouth in that quote are not mine and but a paraphrase and therefore should not have been placed in quotation marks. The exact quote os this: "I know because I was there at the time and saw these men on campus almost on a daily basis."

Luther Blissett2009-03-17 22:37:42
What is a photosphere? As in: "many British figures of philosophy deny him as a photosphere,"

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