New Philosophy

Jacques Derrida and Deconstructionism

Who was Jacques Derrida?

The Algerian-born French intellectual theorist, Jacques Derrida (1930–2004), is widely considered to be the founder of deconstructionism, which he presented in his introduction to a 1962 translation of Edmund Husserl’s (1859–1938) The Origin of Geometry. In a later interview, Derrida said of this work, using his distinctive terminology that has made so many Anglo-American philosophers dismissive of deconstruction:

In this essay the problematic of writing was already in place as such, bound to the irreducible structure of “deferral” in its relationships to consciousness, presence, science, history and the history of science, the disappearance or delay of the origin, etc…. this essay can be read as the other side (recto or verso, as you wish) of Speech and Phenomena.

Using Husserl’s standard that for something to be known it must be known by human consciousness, Derrida developed a critique of the “metaphysics of presence,” the tradition that imagined knowledge as a thing known to God or the Absolute Consciousness. He called the whole history of Western philosophy “a search for a transcendental being that serves as the origin or guarantor of meaning.”

His principle books include “Speech and Phenomena” and Other Essays on Husserl’s Theory of Signs (1973), Of Grammatology (1976), Writing and Difference (1978), Spurs: Nietzsche’s Styles (1979), The Archeology of the Frivolous: Reading Condillac (1980), Margins of Philosophy (1982), The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond (1987), Edmund Husserl’s Origin of Geometry: An Introduction (1962, 1989), Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question (1989), and The Gift of Death (1995). Derrida is most famous for Of Grammatology (1972).


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