12. Derrida argues that language is inescapably metaphysical because it is made up of signifiers that only refer to that which transcends them—the signified. Deconstruction is a related term of structuralism. [citation needed]. Deconstruction (or sometimes just Deconstructionism) was initiated by Jacques Derrida in the 1960s as a theoretical approach in Epistemology and Philosophy of Language and philosophy more broadly. Derrida’s argument against this picture is an extension of an insight by the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Derrida's concerns flow from a consideration of several issues: To this end, Derrida follows a long line of modern philosophers, who look backwards to Plato and his influence on the Western metaphysical tradition. Deconstruction . Many things that end in "theory" (e.g., deconstruction theory, queer theory) are also critical theory's progeny. [18]:21, 46, 101, 156, 164 Derrida will prefer to follow the more "fruitful paths (formalization)" of a general semiotics without falling into what he considered "a hierarchizing teleology" privileging linguistics, and to speak of "mark" rather than of language, not as something restricted to mankind, but as prelinguistic, as the pure possibility of language, working everywhere there is a relation to something else. Because the meaning of a word is always a function of contrasts with the meanings of other words, and because the meanings of those words are in turn dependent on contrasts with the meanings of still other words (and so on), it follows that the meaning of a word is not something that is fully present to us; it is endlessly deferred in an infinitely long chain of meanings, each of which contains the “traces” of the meanings on which it depends. Deconstruction is the term that has been used to describe Derrida’s “method.” If we accept this provisionally as an acceptable usage (we will qualify it later) we must take note of some important features. [52][53] Searle agreed with Derrida's proposal that intentionality presupposes iterability, but did not apply the same concept of intentionality used by Derrida, being unable or unwilling to engage with the continental conceptual apparatus. [44], Between the late 1960s and the early 1980s, many thinkers were influenced by deconstruction, including Paul de Man, Geoffrey Hartman, and J. Hillis Miller. [4], Deconstructive readings of history and sources have changed the entire discipline of history. Does not almost every precise history of an origination impress our feelings as paradoxical and wantonly offensive? Shift your focus a little, and you'll see the spaces between the frame's 'bones.' Deconstruction influences the thinking of the society. What deconstruction reveals, among other things, is that the repression that is necessary for creating a history of philosophy is in large part a repression of what philosophy itself cannot control, of what escapes the grasp of philosophy while being part of it. The problem with Nietzsche, as Derrida sees it, is that he did not go far enough. [20][page needed] 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. n. A philosophical movement and theory of literary criticism that questions traditional assumptions about certainty, identity, and truth; asserts that words... Deconstruction - definition of deconstruction by The Free Dictionary. Richard Rorty was a prominent interpreter of Derrida's philosophy. Therefore, 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". DECONSTRUCTION IN PRACTICE In deconstruction the signified and the signifier are unstable, and can take on multiple meanings. Derrida was 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. Derrida argued that Austin had missed the fact that any speech event is framed by a "structure of absence" (the words that are left unsaid due to contextual constraints) and by "iterability" (the constraints on what can be said, imposed by what has been said in the past). 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. As nouns the difference between deconstruction and structuralism is that deconstruction is a philosophical theory of textual criticism; a form of critical analysis while structuralism is a theory of sociology that views elements of society as part of a cohesive, self-supporting structure. Premium Membership is now 50% off! It rejects traditional readings and instead, calls readers to seek out contradictory viewpoints and analysis. 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. As nouns the difference between formalism and deconstruction is that formalism is strict adherence to a given form of conduct, practice etc while deconstruction is a philosophical theory of textual criticism; a form of critical analysis. 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. A survey of the secondary literature reveals a wide range of heterogeneous arguments. Derrida takes as his starting point the assertion that modern Western philosophy is characterized by and constructed around an inherent desire to place meaning at the centre of presence. Derrida's thinking has inspired Slavoj Zizek, Richard Rorty, Ernesto Laclau, Judith Butler and many more contemporary theorists who have developed a deconstructive approach to politics. This group came to be known as the Yale school and was especially influential in literary criticism. [27]:3 In his deconstruction of Edmund Husserl, Derrida actually argues for the contamination of pure origins by the structures of language and temporality. This is the basis of différance. Have you ever seen the scaffolding that goes up during the construction of a building? … [50] This, in turn, caused Derrida to criticize Searle for not being sufficiently familiar with phenomenological perspectives on intentionality. Through this analysis, the opposition is shown to be a product, or “construction,” of the text rather than something given independently of it. Deconstruction, Derrida says, only points to the necessity of an unending analysis that can make explicit the decisions and hierarchies intrinsic to all texts. If Derrida were to positively define deconstruction—as, for example, a critique—then this would make the concept of critique immune to itself being deconstructed. ), or has the upper hand": signified over signifier; intelligible over sensible; speech over writing; activity over passivity, etc. Derrida argued that the focus on intentionality in speech-act theory was misguided because intentionality is restricted to that which is already established as a possible intention. So, deconstruction involves "a certain attention to structures"[27]:2 and tries to "understand how an 'ensemble' was constituted". A re-valuation of certain classic western dialectics: poetry vs. philosophy, reason vs. revelation, structure vs. creativity, David B. Allison, an early translator of Derrida, states in the introduction to his translation of, Breckman, Warren, "Times of Theory: On Writing the History of French Theory,", This page was last edited on 28 November 2020, at 22:51. These secondary works (e.g. Deconstruction theory: Its importance in law how is deconstruction theory relevant in law, Commonly known as inversion of hierarchy theory, this theory was put forward by Jacques Derrida which gave rise to a seismic shift in critical thought. [38], 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. E-mail Citation » Originally published in 1982, this is a revised edition, now containing an appendix on Derrida’s important methodological text, “Afterword.” Norris is an exceptionally clear writer who brings in moments in the history of philosophy in his treatment in an accessible way. Deconstruction, form of philosophical and literary analysis, derived mainly from work begun in the 1960s by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, that questions the fundamental conceptual distinctions, or “oppositions,” in Western philosophy through a close examination of the language and logic of philosophical and literary texts. However, Money wanted a quick decision — according to his theory, the “gender identity gate” — his term for that point after which a child has locked into an identity as male or female — comes at two and a half to three years of age. 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. [27]:3 As both a structuralist and an antistructuralist gesture, deconstruction is tied up with what Derrida calls the "structural problematic". 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. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. [citation needed] In addition, Derrida asks rhetorically "Is not the idea of knowledge and of the acquisition of knowledge in itself metaphysical? [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. Does the good historian not, at bottom, constantly contradict?".[19]. Deconstruction is therefore a means of interrogating the relationship between the two. Similarly, deconstructionlooks at what makes a text whole and what holes are in between its piec… Derrida states that "Deconstruction is not a method, and cannot be transformed into one". The same happens, of course, with adjectives: when must we stop saying "yellow" and start saying "orange", or exchange "past" for "present"? [18]:42 To be effective, deconstruction needs to create new terms, not to synthesize the concepts in opposition, but to mark their difference and eternal interplay. He called Derrida's conclusion "preposterous" and stated that "Derrida, as far as I can tell, does not have an argument. He simply declares that there is nothing outside of texts..."[61] Searle's reference here is not to anything forwarded in the debate, but to a mistranslation of the phrase "il n'y a pas dehors du texte," ("There is no outside-text") which appears in Derrida's Of Grammatology.[14]:158–159. Derrida's views on deconstruction stood in opposition to the theories of structuralists such as psychoanalytic theorist Jacques Lacan, and anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss. [65] He subsequently presented his views in the article "How to Deconstruct Almost Anything", where he stated, "Contrary to the report given in the 'Hype List' column of issue #1 of Wired ('Po-Mo Gets Tek-No', page 87), we did not shout down the postmodernists. Actually, Deconstruction is more a way of reading than a theory of literature, and it aims to show how texts deconstruct or contradict themselves. 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. Instead, they inhabit philosophical oppositions[further explanation needed]—resisting and organizing them—without ever constituting a third term or leaving room for a solution in the form of a Hegelian dialectic (e.g., différance, archi-writing, pharmakon, supplement, hymen, gram, spacing). 95-97, Structure, Sign, and Play in the Human Sciences, "German Law Journal - Past Special Issues", "Deconstruction in Music. Richard Beardsworth, developing from Critchley's Ethics of Deconstruction, argues, in his 1996 Derrida and the Political, that deconstruction is an intrinsically political practice. How to use deconstruction in a sentence. [14]:25 Derrida published a number of other works directly relevant to the concept of deconstruction, such as Différance, Speech and Phenomena, and Writing and Difference. Deconstruction Introduction You Can Do It. Deconstruction, in essence, allows the reader to “take apart” a text in order to decipher a new meaning. Black Friday Sale! It is in the first instance a philosophical theory and a theory directed towards the (re)reading of philosophical writings. [42] Here, the meaning of a text does not reside with the author or the author's intentions because it is dependent on the interaction between reader and text. Like all Derrida’s terms it has two mutually exclusive (and contradictory) meanings: to destroy/construct. 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. In effect, these texts describe speech as a form of writing, even in cases where writing is explicitly claimed to be secondary to speech. Can be adequately understood only with reference to the specific contrasts and differences they display with,... 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