Jacques Derrida and Deconstructionism
How has Jacques Derrida’s poststructuralism been received?
Derrida’s contemporary Michel Foucault (1926–1984), who many have regarded as a structuralist, accused him of practicing a terrorism of obscurantism. Foucault meant that those who could not understand Derrida (that is, most of his philosophical contemporaries) were attacked by Derrida as idiots. American philosophers such as Noam Chomsky (1929-), John Searle (1932-), and Richard Rorty (1931–2007) have mocked and dismissed Derrida. Searle referred to “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.”
Chomsky thought that Derrida’s work was typical of the local eccentric tradition of Parisian intellectuals. Without it being an explicit issue for them, Chomsky and Searle assume that meaning itself is stable and their theoretical work proceeds on that basis. However, Rorty, who has claimed that it might be impossible to understand Derrida’s metaphysics, has a view similar to Derrida’s about the false pretensions to truth that philosophers entertain.