• Thus, to talk of a method in relation to deconstruction, especially regarding its ethico-political implications, would appear to go directly against the current of Derrida’s
    philosophical adventure.

  • [37][page needed] • David B. Allison, an early translator of Derrida, states in the introduction to his translation of Speech and Phenomena: [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.

  • Rather, according to Derrida, a concept must be understood in the context of its opposite: for example, the word “being” does not have meaning without contrast with the word

  • [32][33] Alternative definitions[edit] 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.

  • To demonstrate the indeterminacy of legal doctrine, these scholars often adopt a method, such as structuralism in linguistics, or deconstruction in Continental philosophy,
    to make explicit the deep structure of categories and tensions at work in legal texts and talk.

  • Derrida warns against considering deconstruction as a mechanical operation, when he states that “It is true that in certain circles (university or cultural, especially in
    the United States) the technical and methodological “metaphor” that seems necessarily attached to the very word ‘deconstruction’ has been able to seduce or lead astray”.

  • [31] 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.

  • For example, Duncan Kennedy, in explicit reference to semiotics and deconstruction procedures, maintains that various legal doctrines are constructed around the binary pairs
    of opposed concepts, each of which has a claim upon intuitive and formal forms of reasoning that must be made explicit in their meaning and relative value, and criticized.

  • [46] 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.

  • “[35] • According to John D. Caputo, the very meaning and mission of deconstruction is: “to show that things-texts, institutions, traditions, societies, beliefs, and practices
    of whatever size and sort you need – do not have definable meanings and determinable missions, that they are always more than any mission would impose, that they exceed the boundaries they currently occupy”[36] • Niall Lucy points to the impossibility
    of defining the term at all, stating: “While in a sense it is impossibly difficult to define, the impossibility has less to do with the adoption of a position or the assertion of a choice on deconstruction’s part than with the impossibility
    of every ‘is’ as such.

  • Derrida’s deconstruction strategy is also used by postmodernists to locate meaning in a text rather than discover meaning due to the position that it has multiple readings.

  • Heidegger’s term referred to a process of exploring the categories and concepts that tradition has imposed on a word, and the history behind them.

  • This explains why Derrida always proposes new terms in his deconstruction, not as a free play but from the necessity of analysis.

  • [25] Basic philosophical concerns[edit] Derrida’s concerns flow from a consideration of several issues: • A desire to contribute to the re-evaluation of all Western values,
    a re-evaluation built on the 18th-century Kantian critique of pure reason, and carried forward to the 19th century, in its more radical implications, by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.

  • Nevertheless, in the end, as Derrida pointed out, Saussure made linguistics “the regulatory model”, and “for essential, and essentially metaphysical, reasons had to privilege
    speech, and everything that links the sign to phone”.

  • 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.

  • Not post-structuralist[edit] Derrida states that his use of the word deconstruction first took place in a context in which “structuralism was dominant” and deconstruction’s
    meaning is within this context.

  • This argument is largely based on the earlier work of Heidegger, who, in Being and Time, claimed that the theoretical attitude of pure presence is parasitical upon a more
    originary involvement with the world in concepts such as ready-to-hand and being-with.

  • [citation needed] Cambridge Dictionary states that ‘deconstruction’ is “the act of breaking something down into its separate parts in order to understand its meaning, especially
    when this is different from how it was previously understood”.

  • [20]: 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.

  • At the same time, deconstruction is also a “structuralist gesture” because it is concerned with the structure of texts.

  • However, like Nietzsche, Derrida is not satisfied merely with such a political interpretation of Plato, because of the particular dilemma modern humans find themselves in.

  • [citation needed] Some new philosophy beyond deconstruction would then be required in order to encompass the notion of critique.

  • His definition of deconstruction is that, “[i]t’s possible, within text, to frame a question or undo assertions made in the text, by means of elements which are in the text,
    which frequently would be precisely structures that play off the rhetorical against grammatical elements.

  • It is for this reason that Derrida distances his use of the term deconstruction from post-structuralism, a term that would suggest that philosophy could simply go beyond structuralism.

  • [18][14]: 7, 12  As Richard Rorty contends, “words have meaning only because of contrast-effects with other words…no word can acquire meaning in the way in which philosophers
    from Aristotle to Bertrand Russell have hoped it might—by being the unmediated expression of something non-linguistic (e.g., an emotion, a sensed observation, a physical object, an idea, a Platonic Form)”.

  • Where Nietzsche did not achieve deconstruction, as Derrida sees it, is that he missed the opportunity to further explore the will to power as more than a manifestation of
    the sociopolitically effective operation of writing that Plato characterized, stepping beyond Nietzsche’s penultimate revaluation of all Western values, to the ultimate, which is the emphasis on “the role of writing in the production of knowledge”.

  • [23][24] Saussure is considered one of the fathers of structuralism when he explained that terms get their meaning in reciprocal determination with other terms inside language:
    In language there are only differences.

  • His definition of deconstruction is that, “the term ‘deconstruction’ refers in the first instance to the way in which the ‘accidental’ features of a text can be seen as betraying,
    subverting, its purportedly ‘essential’ message.

  • [30]: 3  This does not mean that deconstruction has absolutely nothing in common with an analysis, a critique, or a method, because while Derrida distances deconstruction
    from these terms, he reaffirms “the necessity of returning to them, at least under erasure”.

  • [15][16][dubious – discuss] Further information: Epistemological break According to Derrida, and taking inspiration from the work of Ferdinand de Saussure,[17] language as
    a system of signs and words only has meaning because of the contrast between these signs.

  • Secondary definitions are therefore an interpretation of deconstruction by the person offering them rather than a summary of Derrida’s actual position.

  • By demonstrating the aporias and ellipses of thought, Derrida hoped to show the infinitely subtle ways that this originary complexity, which by definition cannot ever be completely
    known, works its structuring and destructuring effects.

  • [44] Deconstruction generally tries to demonstrate that any text is not a discrete whole but contains several irreconcilable and contradictory meanings; that any text therefore
    has more than one interpretation; that the text itself links these interpretations inextricably; that the incompatibility of these interpretations is irreducible; and thus that an interpretative reading cannot go beyond a certain point.

  • The relevance of the tradition of negative theology to Derrida’s preference for negative descriptions of deconstruction is the notion that a positive description of deconstruction
    would over-determine the idea of deconstruction and would close off the openness that Derrida wishes to preserve for deconstruction.

  • [47] Even the process of translation is also seen as transformative since it “modifies the original even as it modifies the translating language”.

  • “[51] Critical legal studies movement[edit] Further information: Critical legal studies See also: Postmodern criminology Arguing that law and politics cannot be separated,
    the founders of the “Critical Legal Studies Movement” found it necessary to criticize the absence of the recognition of this inseparability at the level of theory.

  • This explains Derrida’s concern to always distinguish his procedure from Hegel’s,[20]: 43  since Hegelianism believes binary oppositions would produce a synthesis, while Derrida
    saw binary oppositions as incapable of collapsing into a synthesis free from the original contradiction.

  • When asked by Toshihiko Izutsu some preliminary considerations on how to translate “deconstruction” in Japanese, in order to at least prevent using a Japanese term contrary
    to deconstruction’s actual meaning, Derrida began his response by saying that such a question amounts to “what deconstruction is not, or rather ought not to be”.

  • [22][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.

  • Manfred Frank has even referred to Derrida’s work as “neostructuralism”, identifying a “distaste for the metaphysical concepts of domination and system”.

  • Whether we take the signified or the signifier, language has neither ideas nor sounds that existed before the linguistic system, but only conceptual and phonic differences
    that have issued from the system.

  • Derrida claimed that all of his essays were attempts to define what deconstruction is,[30]: 4  and that deconstruction is necessarily complicated and difficult to explain
    since it actively criticises the very language needed to explain it.

  • Even more important: a difference generally implies positive terms between which the difference is set up; but in language there are only differences without positive terms.

  • ‘Deconstruction’ is somewhat less negative than the Heideggerian or Nietzschean terms ‘destruction’ or ‘reversal’; it suggests that certain foundational concepts of metaphysics
    will never be entirely eliminated…There is no simple ‘overcoming’ of metaphysics or the language of metaphysics.

  • [further explanation needed] The first task of deconstruction is, according to Derrida, to find and overturn these oppositions inside text(s); but the final objective of deconstruction
    is not to surpass all oppositions, because it is assumed they are structurally necessary to produce sense- the oppositions simply cannot be suspended once and for all, as the hierarchy of dual oppositions always reestablishes itself (because
    it is necessary to meaning).

  • Particularly problematic are the attempts to give neat introductions to deconstruction by people trained in literary criticism who sometimes have little or no expertise in
    the relevant areas of philosophy in which Derrida is working.

  • [30]: 1  Derrida states that deconstruction is not an analysis, a critique, or a method[30]: 3  in the traditional sense that philosophy understands these terms.

  • Derrida argues that there are no self-sufficient units of meaning in a text, because individual words or sentences in a text can only be properly understood in terms of how
    they fit into the larger structure of the text and language itself.

  • (Form of Content, that Louis Hjelmslev distinguished from Form of Expression) than how the word “house” may be tied to a certain image of a traditional house (i.e., the relationship
    between signified and signifier), with each term being established in reciprocal determination with the other terms than by an ostensive description or definition: when can we talk about a “house” or a “mansion” or a “shed”?

  • For Derrida, it is not possible to escape the dogmatic baggage of the language we use in order to perform a pure critique in the Kantian sense.

  • [45] He insists that meaning is made possible by the relations of a word to other words within the network of structures that language is.

  • [20]: 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.

  • His way of achieving this was by conducting thorough, careful, sensitive, and yet transformational readings of philosophical and literary texts, with an ear to what in those
    texts runs counter to their apparent systematicity (structural unity) or intended sense (authorial genesis).

  • […] A linguistic system is a series of differences of sound combined with a series of differences of ideas; but the pairing of a certain number of acoustical signs with
    as many cuts made from the mass thought engenders a system of values.

  • An example of structure would be a binary opposition such as good and evil where the meaning of each element is established, at least partly, through its relationship to the
    other element.

  • Deconstruction is any of a loosely-defined set of approaches to understanding the relationship between text and meaning.

  • It is an approach that may be deployed in philosophy, in literary analysis, and even in the analysis of scientific writings.

  • A thinker with a method has already decided how to proceed, is unable to give him or herself up to the matter of thought in hand, is a functionary of the criteria which structure
    his or her conceptual gestures.

  • [21] Nietzsche’s point in Daybreak is that standing at the end of modern history, modern thinkers know too much to continue to be deceived by an illusory grasp of satisfactorily
    complete reason.

  • The mistranslation is often used to suggest Derrida believes that nothing exists but words.

  • Self and other, private and public, subjective and objective, freedom and control are examples of such pairs demonstrating the influence of opposing concepts on the development
    of legal doctrines throughout history.

  • A simple example would consist of looking up a given word in a dictionary, then proceeding to look up the words found in that word’s definition, etc., also comparing with
    older dictionaries.

  • [22] Influence of Saussure[edit] Derrida approaches all texts as constructed around elemental oppositions which all discourse has to articulate if it intends to make any sense

  • By calling our attention to the fact that he has assumed the role of Orpheus, the man underground, in dialectical opposition to Plato, Nietzsche hopes to sensitize us to the
    political and cultural context, and the political influences that impact authorship.

  • To Derrida, That is what deconstruction is made of: not the mixture but the tension between memory, fidelity, the preservation of something that has been given to us, and,
    at the same time, heterogeneity, something absolutely new, and a break.


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