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'''Jacques Derrida''' (July 15, 1930 – October 8, 2004) was an [[Algeria]]n-[[born]] [[France|French]] [[literary critic]] and [[philosopher]] of [[Jew]]ish descent, most often referenced as the founder of "[[deconstruction]]" or, by more unsympathetic theorists, "[[Jacques Derrida|deconstructionism]]". 
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* [[Slavoj Žižek|Žižek, Slavoj]]. ''[[The Ticklish Subject|The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology]]''. [[London]]: Verso, 1999. pp. 158-9
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: [[Abraham]]'s sacrifice 321-2
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: [[Descartes]]'s [[withdrawal]]-into-[[self]] 34
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: on [[Heidegger]] 9-10
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: [[ontology]] versus [[heauntology]] 238
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: pure [[notion]] of [[gift]] 56
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: On the Spint 9
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* {{Z}} ''[[The Fragile Absolute|The Fragile Absolute, or Why the Christian Legacy is Worth Fighting For]]''. London and New York: Verso. p. 47
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* {{Z}} ''[[Conversations with Žižek|Conversations with Žižek: Slavoj Žižek and Glyn Daly]]''. London: Polity Press, 2004. pp. 5, 29-30, 46-7, 103
  
<blockquote>
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== In the work of Slavoj Žižek ==
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Žižek’s encounters with Derrida belong to a [[tradition]] of mutual Lacanian– Derridean agonistics in which Derrida’s [[thinking]] was initially dismissed as mere “textualism”. From the reminder that phenomena take recognizable shape only through interpretative artifice, and that an irreducible gap remains between [[event]] and its [[linguistic]] description (Derrida 1976: 158), it was too quickly concluded that Derrida eradicates any [[referent]] and, in an auto-created [[world]] of self-referential textuality, celebrates a free play of differences without purchase on [[reality]] and too playfully ironic to be practically relevant.
  
<ref>Žižek, S. (2000) [[The Fragile Absolute]], or Why the Christian Legacy is Worth Fighting For, London and New York: Verso. p. 47</ref></blockquote>
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Sensitive to Derrida’s (Derrida 2003: 87–8) objections, Žižek belongs to [[another]] generation of critics. Retaining the assumption that Derrida sharply [[divides]] [[text]] from referent, or equally “phenomenal” from “absolute Other”, Žižek’s charge is the reverse of textual [[narcissism]] (“Th e [[Real]] of [[Sexual]] Diff erence”). Supposedly, in a Levinasian [[about]]-turn, the “later Derrida” negates the textual [[imagination]] (e.g. [[legal]] systems, [[political]] measures) to preserve a pure, transcendent referent (a hypostatized absolute [[Other]] such as justice itself). “Derrida’s operation”, Žižek argues, merely turns from “textualism” to a different, but equally practically impotent, [[impossibility]]. He argues that [[Lacanian]] [[logic]], represented ''inter alia'' through Lacan’s “Borromean knot”, copes better with the complexities of [[ethical]] [[practice]].
  
TICK
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The Lacan–Derrida [[encounter]] is consistently based on mutual misconstrual, and Žižek’s [[reading]] is no exception. However, unpacking his misinterpretation of Derrida’s operation has the [[value]] of clarifying Lacan’s [[ontological]] stance concerning the [[traumatic]] Real and the [[complex]] logic of [[human]] appropriation, which, incidentally, finds allegiance, not opposition, in Derrida’s operation, properly [[understood]] in [[terms]] of the “plural logic of the aporia”.
  Derrida, Jacques 158-9
 
      Abraham's sacrifice 321-2
 
      Descartes's withdrawal-into-self 34
 
      on Heidegger 9-10
 
      ontology versus heauntology 238
 
      pure notion of gift 56
 
      On the Spint 9
 
  
==References==
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Using Creon and [[Antigone]] as metonyms for two extreme attitudes (“unprincipled pragmatism” and “totalitarianism”), Žižek takes up Derrida’s [[insistence]] that one ignores at one’s peril the irreducible gap between [[economic]], phenomenal reality (the human law Creon invokes) and the aneconomic, transcendent Divine Other (obeyed by Antigone). To close the gap by denying all transcendent [[Otherness]] in the [[name]] of phenomenal reality can only be to promote the unprincipled [[pragmatism]] exemplified by Creon, whose [[refusal]] to contravene the [[letter]] of human law makes of him “a pragmatic [[state]] politician, mercilessly crushing any [[activity]] that would destabilize the smooth functioning of the state and civil peace” (“[[The Real]] of Sexual Difference”: 68). However, to leave open the gap by submitting phenomenal reality to a hypostatized Divinity is instead to risk “totalitarianism”. Antigone remains blindly faithful to the [[singular]] call of the Divine, which nobody else can [[understand]]. As a proto-totalitarian, her “decision” to bury her brother is the result not of careful deliberation but of her insistence on her Divine, sovereign [[right]] to do just what she decides, whatever it is.
<references/>
 
  
==See Also==
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Between unprincipled pragmatism and [[totalitarianism]], one faces what [[Lacan]] (SXI: 210–12) calls “the mugger’s choice” (i.e. the [[injunction]] to choose “your [[money]] or your life”). Th is is no [[choice]] at all: a circularity persists whereby, in choosing one option, the other is lost; yet, because they are interdependent, this is also to lose the original choice. Negatively, in rejecting one option and gaining the other, one thereby regains the rejected original. Fearing the [[terror]] of singular totalitarianism, which threatens the [[social]] edifice, one might institute a shared, regulatory legal [[economy]] that aims instead for justice. However, the consequence of perfecting this economy by eradicating “evils” (unfairness, singularities, etc.) is not the hoped-for justice, but rigid prescriptions that apply badly “from above” to [[dynamic]] ethical realities. Ironically, when laws prevail over justice, law becomes totalitarian. Conversely, fearing the merciless strictures of unbending law, one might, like Antigone, answer to an anarchic, singular [[idea]] of “Justice itself” (“Th e Real of Sexual Difference”: 67). But all individuals, then, may legitimately apply personally held supreme principles at their own discretion. Th e consequence of this successful “totalitarianism”, where no overall [[principle]] suffices to arbitrate between [[power]] struggles, must be unprincipled pragmatism. Th is lose/lose circularity suggests that viable ethical practice cannot depend on either/or choices between binary opposites.
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[[Category:Slavoj Žižek]]
 
  
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On the [[impotence]] of binary thinking, Žižek and Derrideans concur. Žižek claims, however, that Derrida cannot off er an adequate heuristic to negotiate the “mugger’s choice” between immanence (Creon) and transcendence (Antigone), because his thinking remains trapped within a [[religious]] [[matrix]] that understands the Real in terms of sharply opposing ontological spheres. Derrida, for example, “retains the irreducible opposition between … the messianic call of justice and its ‘ontologization’, its transposition into a set of positive legal and political measures” (“Th e Real of Sexual Difference”: 65). Further, all “determinate economico-political measures” will betray the transcendent principle of, for example, justice because Derrida has merely replaced a problematic positive [[figure]] of the absolute Other, associated with the “[[metaphysics]] of presence”, with its equally problematic conception as a hypostatized absolute [[absence]]. Th is means that our [[relationship]] with the Other cannot be one of [[active]] hermeneutic uncovering. Instead, we must respect the purity of the absolute Other by renouncing any determinate [[structure]] involving real [[people]] in real circumstances and embracing a “primordial [[passivity]], sentiency, of responding, of [[being]] infinitely indebted to and [[responsible]] for the call of an Otherness that never acquires positive features” (''ibid''.). This move, Žižek argues, underpins the unacceptable “lesson of deconstruction”: facing the [[impossible]], we may justly [[renounce]] any [[demand]] for determinate decisions concerning [[practical]] measures.
  
'''Jacques Derrida''' ([[July 15]], [[1930]] &ndash; [[October 8]], [[2004]]) was an [[Algeria]]n-born [[France|French]] [[literary critic]] and [[philosopher]] of [[Jew]]ish descent, most often referenced as the founder of "[[deconstruction]]" or, by more unsympathetic theorists, "[[deconstructionism]]".  His work had a significant impact on [[continental philosophy]] and on [[literary theory]], particularly through his long-time association with the [[literary critic]] [[Paul de Man]]; though the reception of deconstruction in literary criticism is not universally agreed to be consonant with Derrida's work. Derrida also referenced [[analytic philosophy]] in his work, particularly the work of [[J.L. Austin]].
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By contrast, Žižek adopts Lacan’s supposedly alternative [[understanding]] of the Real as one ontological region, whose “immanent transcendence” presents as [[trauma]]. Lacan argues that the Other can neither be hypostatized nor negated and thus, as Copjec [[notes]], “eternally returns or repeats” (Copjec 2002: 96). The “hard kernel” of the Real that halts analytical [[interpretation]] because we cannot make [[complete]] [[sense]] of it is also a seed, as disseminative as différance, because we are obliged nevertheless to strive for sense. Th is describes the dynamic of immanent “sublimation”. It is in its determinate [[interpretations]] that an event is constituted as a phenomenon, but precisely because they cannot be definitive these interpretations themselves require interpretation. Th us the determination of an event endlessly calls for more determination and the event becomes self-transcending.
  
More broadly, his work is often associated with [[post-structuralism]] and [[postmodernism]], although Derrida never used the latter term, and other scholars within deconstruction such as [[Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe]] have characterized themselves as modernist rather than postmodern in tendency.
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To explain why Žižek’s encounter with Derrida is misconceived, one must address Derrida’s adjudication between [[phenomenology]] and Levinasian [[ethics]] in “[[Violence]] and Metaphysics” (Derrida 1978: 79–153). Ironically, Žižek’s critique of “Derrida’s operation” precisely echoes Derrida’s critique of [[Levinas]] for: (a) opposing a centripetal Greek spirit of [[totality]] (sameness, immanence, [[history]], [[philosophy]]) to a centrifugal, eschatological, implicitly “Hebraic”, spirit of infinity (otherness, transcendence, ethics); (b) insisting on an abyssal gap between these poles; (c) assuming an either/or choice between supposed opposites; and (d) rejecting what he sees as violent, [[phenomenological]] “totalization” for the pure [[non-violence]] of an appeal to infinity, which he calls Ethics (Derrida 1978: 82–3). Derrida shows in multiple ways that Levinas’s insistence on the purity of the wholly Other remains inconsistent, since his [[discourse]] in fact requires the “contaminating” phenomenology he rejects (ibid.: 133). Derrida argues accordingly that we have no access to any pure spirit of non-violence, but can only choose the passage of least possible violence between the paralysing extremes of totality and infinity. This passage, he argues, is achieved better by [[Husserl]] than Levinas. For Levinas, the [[alterity]] of the wholly Other is respected only by abandoning hermeneutic uncovering. Phenomenology, by contrast, can tolerate the inescapable violence of active appropriation by accepting that inadequation (the impossibility of perfect evidence) marks transcendence. Th is imperfection accommodates both an indefinite potential in the other for phenomenality (for showing, illumination and evidence) and respects its alterity (its wonder, terror, surprises and secrets). Derrida does appreciate Levinas’s power to highlight the [[structural]] violation of otherness built into traditional philosophy (including phenomenology). Against strict Husserlian phenomenology, he launches an adapted wholly Other, which points not to an [[external]] Other in opposition to the sphere of immanence, but to the unpredictability inscribed within every immanent horizon of expectation, which opens all phenomena to potentially traumatic shattering. Th is precisely aligns his discourse with the [[paradox]] of “immanent transcendence” described in Lacan’s version of the traumatic Real.
  
==Life==
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To deal with this ontology of immanent transcendence in [[order]] to show, for example, that genuinely ethical [[action]] is neither purely phenomenal (obedience to [[moral]] [[codes]]) nor a [[passive]], abject response to the call of an inscrutable Other, both Lacan and Derrida develop complex logics of contamination. As Žižek explains, to understand the [[logical]] structure underpinning Antigone’s act as an act of decision rather than proto-totalitarianism, one must develop a “[[spectral]] analysis” of the “other” as a [[three]]-fold [[concept]]. Th e [[imaginary]] Other names other people like me (my neighbour as my [[mirror]] [[image]]); the [[symbolic]] “big Other” refers to the impersonal codes that coordinate [[intersubjective]] co-[[existence]]; and “the impossible Thing” indicates an unfathomable, monstrous otherness in every person (“The Real of Sexual Difference”: 70).
Derrida grew up in [[Algiers|El-Biar]], [[Algeria]]. As a young student, he was expelled from his [[lycée]] by Algerian administrators zealous to implement antisemitic quotas set by the [[Vichy France|Vichy]] government. He skipped school for a year rather than attend the Jewish lycée formed by displaced teachers and students. Following this, his family moved to France in 1949 to advance his secondary education, remaining until 1962 when they moved to [[Nice]].
 
  
Beginning in 1952, Derrida was a student at the elite [[École Normale Superieure]] (ENS), where he studied under [[Michel Foucault]] and [[Louis Althusser]], among others. After studies at the Husserl Archive in [[Leuven]], [[Belgium]], completion of his philosophy ''[[agrégation]],'' Derrida became a lecturer there. During the [[Algerian War of Independence]], Derrida asked to teach soldiers' children in lieu of military service, teaching [[French language|French]] and [[English language|English]] from 1957 to 1959. Following the war, Derrida began a long, if slightly ambiguous, association with the [[Tel Quel]] group of literary and philosophical theorists. At the same time, from 1960 to 1964, Derrida taught philosophy at the [[University of Paris|Sorbonne]], and from 1964 to 1984 at the [[École Normale Superieure]]. He completed his ''Thése d'État'' (roughly the equivalent of a doctoral thesis) in 1980; the work was subsequently published in English translation as "The Time of a Thesis: Punctuations". Until his death he was director of studies at the [[École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales]] in [[Paris]]. With [[François Châtelet]] and others, he was a co-founder in 1983 of the [[International College of Philosophy]] (French acronym: Ciph), a research institution intended to give a place to philosophical researches and lectures which could not be carried out elsewhere in the academy. He was elected as its first president.
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Notably, this is aligned with Derrida’s contention that terms like “the other” cannot cohere, since they encompass incompatible senses, which can neither be reduced to one another nor ordered hierarchically. Instead, these senses are bound together in complex forms like the Borromean [[knot]] of circular opposition and interdependence. Here the linkage between [[them]] is such that each holds the other two together and apart in a tensioned relationship, and suspending one term engenders the collapse of the other two. To understand Antigone’s act, Žižek explains, one must first note that the monstrous [[Thing]] only becomes a “fellow human like me” through a [[third]], mediating [[agency]]: the impersonal [[Symbolic order|Symbolic Order]] to which all of us are willing to submit. To suspend the functioning of [[the Symbolic]] Order, as Antigone did, is to collapse the border between knowable “friendly neighbour” and unfathomable “monstrous Thing” (''ibid''.).
  
Beginning with his 1966 lecture at [[Johns Hopkins University]], at which he presented his essay "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences" (see below), his work assumed international prominence. For the rest of his life, Derrida travelled widely and held a series of visiting and permanent positions, particularly in American universities.
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Žižek argues that the ethical act, the [[moment]] of genuine decision, is made possible only when [[the symbolic]] order is suspended and the actual Antigone becomes [[The thing|the Thing]]. In this brief, passing moment of collapse, she herself becomes singular, unfathomable and inimitable. Th us she excludes herself from the networks that constitute communal [[life]], becoming the traumatic [[cause]] of her own framework of value. But the moment of decision is fleeting. Caputo articulates precisely this insight in Derridean terms, where he argues that justice slips our grasp. To pin justice to an event by drawing maxims from a decision, or to individuals by calling them just, is to lose what justice “is”, for in the former [[case]] justice is reduced to the application of rules, whereas in the latter justice is reduced to a knowable [[character]] [[trait]] in the friendly neighbour. Justice “appears” only “in a singular action in a singular [[situation]], and this only for the while that it lasts, in the instant of decision” (Caputo 1997: 138). This is just as well, for were this not the case no intersubjective life would be possible at all.
From 1986 on he was Professor of the Humanities at the [[University of California, Irvine]], which has a major archive of his manuscripts.  
 
  
Derrida was a member of the [[American Academy of Arts and Sciences]] and received the 2001 [[Adorno-Preis]] from the University of Frankfurt.
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To re-establish intersubjective life subsequent to the decisive moment, the world’s Antigones and their communities must come to terms with (make sense of, codify) the traumatic reconfiguration of value, and therefore face again Creon’s kind of unprincipled pragmatism that the decision disrupted. Derrida argues that without this circular predicament, there would be no call for decisions, but only calculative application of laws under the [[illusion]] that we [[know]] enough, or the abdication of [[responsibility]] under the illusion that we know [[nothing]]. But it is because individuals can neither know for sure nor [[claim]] absolute [[ignorance]] that we are [[subject]] to the singularizing trauma of making decisions and taking responsibility for them. The “lesson of deconstruction” sounds rather a lot like the “lesson of psychoanalysis”.
He was awarded honorary doctorates by [[University of Cambridge|Cambridge University]], [[Columbia University]], [[The New School]] for Social Research, [[University of Essex]], [[University of Leuven]], and [[Williams College]].  
 
  
In 2003, Derrida was diagnosed with aggressive [[pancreatic cancer]], which reduced his speaking and travelling engagements. He died in a [[Paris|Parisian]] hospital on the evening of Friday, [[October 8]], [[2004]] ([http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3729844.stm BBC story]).
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==References==
 
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<references />
==Work==
 
===Early works===
 
Derrida's earliest work was in a critique of the limits of [[phenomenology]]. His earliest academic manuscript for a degree was a work on [[Edmund Husserl]] and "genesis", submitted in 1954 and much later published as ''The Problem of Genesis in Husserl's Phenomenology''. In 1962 he published ''Edmund Husserl's ''Origin of Geometry'': An Introduction'', which contained his own translation of the Husserl essay.
 
 
 
Derrida's first major contribution to the international academic community came with his paper "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences", delivered at a conference at [[Johns Hopkins University]] in 1966. (This essay was subsequently included in ''Writing and Difference'' - see below.) The conference was billed as a consideration of [[structuralism]], then at the peak of its influence in France but only then becoming familiar to academic audiences in the [[United States]], particularly departments of French and Comparative Literature, where faculty were least dependent on the lengthy process of translating [[monograph]]s.  Derrida was remarkable among invitees in that he never had orthodox commitments to structuralism and had offered papers critical of structuralist scholarship as early as 1963.
 
 
 
Derrida's lecture was written with words of praise for structuralist accomplishment and reservations about its internal limitations. This contributed to a sense that the labours of structuralism had moved on to a point where structuralism wasn't itself anymore, supporting subsequent declarations that many of the same people who had contributed to structuralism were now rather producing "[[post-structuralism]]". Near the beginning of the essay, Derrida argued:
 
 
 
"[...] the entire history of the concept of structure, before the rupture of which we are speaking, must be thought of as a series of substitutions of centre for centre, as a linked chain of determinations of the centre. Successively, and in a regulated fashion, the centre receives different forms or names. The history of metaphysics, like the history of the West, is the history of these metaphors and metonymies. Its matrix [...] is the determination of Being as ''presence'' in all senses of this word. It could be shown that all the names related to fundamentals, to principles, or to the centre have always designated an invariable presence - ''eidos'', ''archē'', ''telos'', ''energeia'', ''ousia'' (essence, existence, substance, subject) ''alētheia'', transcendentality, consciousness, God, man, and so forth." ("Structure, Sign and Play" in ''Writing and Difference'', p. 353.)
 
 
 
The fallout from Derrida's paper was such that by the time the conference proceedings were published in 1970, the title of the collection had become ''The Structuralist Controversy''. The conference was also of personal note to Derrida, being where he met [[Paul de Man]], who would be a close friend and source of great controversy, as well as where he first met the French psychoanalyst [[Jacques Lacan]], with whose work Derrida enjoyed a mixed relationship.
 
 
 
===1967-1972===
 
Derrida's work consistently demonstrated an interest in all the disciplines under discussion at the Baltimore conference, as was evidenced by the subject matter of the three collections of work published in 1967, ''Of Grammatology'', ''Writing and Difference'', and ''Speech and Phenomena'', which contained essay-length studies of philosophers such as [[Jean-Jacques Rousseau]], [[Ferdinand de Saussure]], [[Edmund Husserl|Husserl]], [[Emmanuel Levinas|Levinas]], [[Martin Heidegger|Heidegger]], [[Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel|Hegel]], [[Michel Foucault|Foucault]], [[Georges Bataille]] and [[René Descartes|Descartes]], anthropologist [[Claude Lévi-Strauss]], [[Sigmund Freud]], and writers such as [[Edmond Jabes]] and [[Antonin Artaud]]. It is in this trinity of early-ish works that the 'principles' of deconstruction were set out, not through theoretical explication but, rather, by demonstration, where he showed that the arguments promulgated by their subject-matter exceeded and contradicted the oppositional parameters in which they were situated. The next five years of lectures and essay-length work were gathered into two 1972 collections, ''Dissemination'' and ''Margins of Philosophy'', at which time a collection of interviews - published together as ''Positions'' in 1981 - was also released.
 
 
 
===Of Spirit===
 
On March 14th, 1987, Derrida first presented at the CIPH conference titled "Heidegger: Open Questions" a lecture which was subsequently published, in October 1987, with revisions as ''Of Spirit'' (the French title ''Heidegger et la Question: De l'esprit et autres essais'' makes very pointed reference  to the burned book ''De l'esprit'' by [[Helvétius]] and mockery of Heidegger's reference to "French rationalism" in his famous ''Spiegel'' interview "Only a God can save us now"). ''Of Spirit'' demonstrates, in response to the controversy over Heidegger's Nazism, the transformation of Derrida's active philosophical inheritance. The work is headlined by Derrida's tracing of the shifting role of ''Geist'' (spirit) through Heidegger's work. Reconnecting in a number of respects with previous work on Heidegger (such as "The Ends of Man" in ''Margins of Philosophy'') Derrida reconsiders three other fundamental and recurring elements of Heideggerian philosophy which span the corpus: the distinction between man and animal, technology, and the privilege of questioning as the essential mode of philosophy.
 
 
 
"Of Spirit" is a crucial intervention in the long debate on [[Heidegger]]'s Nazism, and, somewhat unexpectedly, came off the press at the same time as the publication, in France, of a book by an unknown Chilean writer, Victor Farias, who charged that Heidegger's philosophy amounted to a wholehearted endorsement of the Nazi [[Sturmabteilung]] (SA) faction. Derrida responded to Farias in an interview, "Heidegger, the Philosopher's Hell" and a subsequent article, "Comment donner raison? How to Concede, with Reasons?" He correctly noted that Farias was a very weak reader of Heidegger's thought, and added, controversially at the time, that a lot of the evidence Farias and his supporters touted as new had been known in the philosophical community for a long time. Much of Derrida's position in "Of Spirit" and subsequent essays on Heidegger is echoed in the positions of [[Maurice Blanchot]], [[Emmanuel Levinas]], and [[Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe]].
 
 
 
The Heidegger controversy of 1987 is important because, in the long run, it highlighted the ethical and religious turns that Derrida's writing was taking, especially his philosophical proximity to [[Emmanuel Levinas]].
 
 
 
===Other works===
 
Starting in 1972, Derrida produced on average more than a book per year. He was said to have released more work in 2003 than in any other year. He was so prolific that there is no current bibliography of his work that might be firmly described as complete. However, a good starting point is the bibliography included in Jack Reynolds and Jonathan Roffe (eds.), ''Understanding Derrida'' (London and New York: Continuum, 2004). Two further points deserve mention: Derrida's 'political turn', heralded by ''Specters of Marx'' in 1994, saw him divert his attention to, perhaps, more specific matters in politics, though his views remain subject to critical speculation.
 
 
 
His 'ethical turn', as witnessed in works such as ''The Gift of Death'', see Derrida employing his still controversial method of deconstruction to the relationship between ethics and religion.  Derrida critiques [[Søren Kierkegaard]]'s ''[[Fear and Trembling]]'' in this work and claims a [[leap of faith]] is required in many aspects of life, not just religious faith.  In the view of the present author (so to speak), Derrida's debt to Nietzschean genealogy is unmistakable - particularly in the two writers' linking of the concepts of responsibility, guilt and the genesis of the Judeao-Christian tradition.
 
 
 
==Deconstruction==
 
''Main Article: [[Deconstruction]]''
 
 
 
The 1966 paper, in addition to establishing Derrida's international reputation, marked the starting point of what is both Derrida's most significant and least-understood concept, deconstruction. Much of the mystique and confusion surrounding deconstruction stems from Derrida's insistence on not allowing the concept to be immune to its own critiques. That is, Derrida took pains to make deconstruction as impossible to essentialize as deconstruction made everything else.
 
 
 
At its core, if it can be said to have one, deconstruction is an attempt to open a text (literary, philosophical, or otherwise) to a range of meanings and interpretations. Its method is usually to take binary oppositions within a text - rigidly defined pairs of opposites like good/evil or male/female - and show that they are not as clear-cut or as stable as it first seems, that the two opposed concepts are in fact fluid, then to use this newfound ambiguity to show that the text's meaning is similarly fluid. This fluidity stands as a legacy of traditional (that is, Platonist) metaphysics founded on oppositions that seek to establish a stability of meaning through conceptual absolutes where one term, for example 'good', is elevated to a status that designates its opposite, in this case 'evil', to its perversion, lack, or inferior. However, these "violent hierarchies", as Derrida termed it, are eventually silently challenged by the texts themselves, where the meaning of a text ''depends'' on this contradiction or antinomy. This is why Derrida insisted that 'deconstruction' (Derrida never really liked or approved of the term itself) was never performed or executed but 'took place': in this way, the task of the 'deconstructor' was to show where this oppositional or dialectical stability was subverted by the text's internal logic.
 
 
 
The result is to find often strikingly new interpretations of texts, both philosophical and literary - to the point where Derrida's supporters claim his work consists entirely of meticulous readings that find philosophy anew. No 'meaning' is ever stable: rather, the only thing that keeps the sense of unity within a text is what Derrida called the 'metaphysics of presence', where presence was granted the privilege of truth. To understand this argument, one needs to explore Derrida's deconstruction of the speech/writing opposition, of which ''Of Grammatology'' is perhaps the most focused study. Derrida's critique of oppositions may be largely inspired by Nietzsche's genealogical reconsideration of 'good' and 'evil' (see, in particular, ''Beyond Good and Evil'' and its 'clarification', ''On the Genealogy of Morals'').
 
 
 
Derrida's practice of reading raises the question of the relationship between deconstruction and literary theory. Within literary studies, deconstruction is often treated as a particular method of reading - in explicit contrast to Derrida's claims that deconstruction is an "event" within a text, not a method of reading the text. Despite this apparent contradiction, the literary sensibilities of Derrida cannot be ignored, as many of his own deconstructions were of poems and literary texts.
 
 
 
Further, deconstruction's sensitivities to philosophical efforts at defining limits have been taken by some to imply a deconstructive agenda for the ultimate reversal of order. This agenda would cover: philosophy's claim to be the first of all academic disciplines; holding out hopes of uniting all; delineating what is proper to each as they remain apart; and expelling from itself non-philosophy (via judgements which irreducibly take part in violence and hinge on matters of interpretation made through language). This has been seen as the privilege of the non-serious and the literary over a humbled philosophy.
 
 
 
Although its influence on literary studies is probably the most well-known and well-reported effect of deconstruction, its roots are more philosophical than literary, although it is also tied to distinct but abutting academic disciplines such as [[linguistics]] and [[anthropology]] (called the "human sciences" in France). Derrida's examination of the latter's philosophical foundations, both conceptual and historical, and their continued reliance on philosophical argument (whether consciously or not), was an important aspect of his thought. Among his foremost influences are [[Edmund Husserl]], [[Sigmund Freud]], and [[Martin Heidegger]]. Heidegger in particular was a major influence on Derrida - he claims in his "Letter to a Japanese Friend" (''Derrida and [[différance]]'', eds. Robert Bernasconi and David Wood) that the word "déconstruction" was his attempt both to translate and re-appropriate for his own ends the Heideggerian terms 'Destruktion' and 'Abbau' via a word from the French language, the varied senses of which seemed consistent with his requirements.
 
 
 
This relationship with the Heideggerean term was chosen over the Nietzschean term "demolition", as Derrida shared with Heidegger an interest in renovating philosophy to allow it to treat increasingly fundamental matters. In this regard, he moves beyond Heidegger in a significant way. While Heidegger passes through [[Nietzsche]], [[Kierkegaard]], [[Hegel]], [[Kant]], [[Descartes]], [[Aquinas]], [[Aristotle]], [[Plato]], and [[Parmenides]], and finds their work wanting where the question of ''Being'' is concerned, Derrida prefers to mine the heterogenous nature of their works - indeed, his reading of Plato in ''Dissemination'' is among his best-known and most important readings.
 
 
 
Before his death, Derrida seemed uninterested in deconstruction.  As about the widespread application of deconstruction at United States universities, Derrida dismissed any concerns by saying that he did not understand why Americans still talked about deconstruction when he himself had abandoned it years ago.
 
 
 
===Aporia===
 
Derrida received the 2001 Adorno Prize, named after [[Theodor Adorno]]. In accepting this award, Derrida noted both differences and affinities with Adorno. Their treatment of [[aporia]] was noted as an affinity. Aporia comes from the Greek απορια (from α-πορος) meaning "the impassable". The aporetic was a recurring structure for Derrida: Derrida strived to render as determinate as possible an interpretation, finding a series of "undecidable" decisions between a series of determinate constructions of interpretations. These passages through impossible decisions are unavoidable, according to Derrida, and potentially lead to a model of responsibility. Derrida views this as the point to which philosophy should aspire. In Derrida's view, philosophy would like to deliver its complete system, here and now: its absolute work made manifest to its reader, the end of philosophy being the end of philosophy.
 
 
 
The idea of aporia is carried over in other deconstructive readings - particularly those of Paul de Man, whose readings of poems were known for concluding that the poems ended in an aporia.
 
 
 
==Criticism of Derrida==
 
 
 
[[Analytic philosophy|Analytic]] philosophers and [[scientist]]s are prominent among Derrida's detractors, some of whom regard his work as non-philosophical or [[pseudophilosophy]] and many dismissing it as charlatanism. Nevertheless, Derrida has repeatedly addressed the American Philosophical Association and is highly regarded by a few contemporary American analytic philosophers, such as [[Richard Rorty]] and [[Stanley Cavell]], who, unusually, do not write exclusively within the analytic tradition.
 
 
 
Supporters of Derrida suggest that the major substance of these critiques is circular &mdash; that they propose a system of evaluating philosophy that is antithetical to Derrida, and then criticize Derrida for not adhering to it. They are further criticized for being based on popular understandings of Derrida, rather than on Derrida's work. The reliance on received understanding of Derrida's work in such cases may be motivated in part by the difficulty of Derrida's texts, many of which are written in a style that does not resemble conventional philosophical prose, including polylogues and parallel texts presented in varied page layouts, which has itself drawn objection. Derrida remarked on this:
 
 
 
{{Quotation|You also asked me, in a personal way, why people are angry at me. To a large extent, I don't know. It's up to them to answer. To a small extent I know; it is not usually because people are angry at me personally (well, it happens in private, perhaps); but rather they are angry at what I ''write''. They are angry at my texts more than anything else, and I think it is because of the ''way'' I write &mdash; not the content, or the thesis. They say that I do not obey the usual rules of rhetoric, grammar, demonstration, and argumentation; but, of course, if they were simply not interested, they would not be angry. As it is, they start to get involved but feel that it's not that easy, that to read my texts they have to change the rules, to read differently, if only at another rhythm.|Derrida|"Following Theory", p. 17, in ''life.after.theory'', eds. Michael Payne and John Schad}}
 
 
 
In 1992 the [[University of Cambridge]] awarded an honorary doctorate to Derrida, despite strenuous opposition from its Philosophy Faculty. Twenty philosophers from other institutions, including [[W. V. Quine]] and [[Ruth Barcan Marcus]], signed a letter to protest the award, maintaining that Derrida's work "does not meet accepted standards of clarity and rigor" and describing his philosophy as being composed of "tricks and gimmicks similar to those of the [[Dada|Dadaists]]." Derrida replied that the letter embarrasses itself immediately, transgressing banal standards of "clarity and rigor" by citing examples ("logical phallusies") which, Derrida wrote, "I challenge anyone to find in my writings" and which for him reveal the attempt to police academic freedom (in "Honoris causa: This is ''also'' extremely funny" in ''Points'').
 
 
 
Additionally, political scientist and linguist [[Noam Chomsky]] has expressed the view that Derrida's work is essentially pointless, because his writings are deliberately obscured with pretentious rhetoric to hide the simplicity of the ideas within. Chomsky has frequently grouped Derrida within a broader category of the Parisian intellectual community which Chomsky has criticized for acting as an elite power structure for the well educated through difficult writing. He also speaks generally negatively of other French intellectuals such as [[Althusser]], [[Lacan]], [[Lyotard]], and [[Kristeva]]. Chomsky has indicated that he may simply be incapable of understanding Derrida, but is suspicious of the possibility, maintaining that in the majority of cases he is able to ask a colleague to explain the work in clearer terminology, such as a new theorem in physics. Chomsky's opposition to Derrida could be reduced to his opposition to the linguistic and semiotic theories on which Derrida has partly relied throughout his work, or to his opposition to the greater part of modern French thought.
 
 
 
The critique of difficult writing is, nevertheless, more pervasive than Chomsky's attack would suggest. In part, Derrida has been criticized for writing about difficult authors and expecting an elaborate knowledge of Western philosophy from his readers. He has, in turn, objected to this critique of "difficult writing," by emphasizing (a) that his writing changes depending on the context he was addressing, and, by extension, is much more accessible in (for example) the case of newspaper articles, while retaining the utmost deconstructive rigor in properly philosophical texts (and seeking to do so even in occasional pieces). And (b) that the popular demand that philosophers write for a wide audience is ideological and does not match, for example, the demands made of mathematicians, physicists, etc, the specificity of whose argument can also not be explained to a wide public (see ''Points...'' and ''Paper Machine''), while the demand that he write for a wide audience and simplify the philosophical tradition he is depending on is plainly simplistic.
 
 
 
An obituary of Derrida by [[Jonathan Kandell]] in ''[[The New York Times]]'' titled "[http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/10/obituaries/10derrida.html?ex=1255147200&en=bc84f1b2c5f092c5&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland Jacques Derrida, Abstruse Theorist, Dies at 74]" (10-Oct-2004) was criticized by many academics as being ideologically motivated, intentionally offensive, and excessively critical, and a [http://www.humanities.uci.edu/remembering_jd/ letter of objection] was signed online by over 5000 academics. (As a response to widespread academic anger over the obituary, the same paper also published two much more sympathetic assessments of Derrida's work: "The Man Who Showed Us How to Take the World Apart" (11-Oct-2004) by Edward Rothstein and "What Derrida Really Meant" (14-Oct-2004) by Mark C. Taylor.  It did not publish many other critical responses to the obituary, and nevertheless, a quick search on the New York Times website will also show that writers in the paper often use "Derrida" as a derogatory shorthand for "difficult writing" or "academic seclusion.") [[The Economist]]'s [http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=3308320 obituary of Derrida] (21-Oct-2004) attracted [http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=3398765 similar criticism]. By contrast, the obiturary of Derrida in The Guardian was extensive and attempted to explain Derrida's thought and elaborate contributions to contemporary thought.
 
 
 
Derrida often comes under criticism for his influences and associations. In particular, the involvement of Martin Heidegger (see above) and Paul de Man (see below) with [[Nazism|National Socialism]] and its Belgian collaborators is frequently argued to be a series of morally reprehensible acts for which Derrida either fails to account or in fact apologizes. Such criticisms are generally aligned with a broader charge that deconstruction is a form of [[nihilism]] that attempts to undermine ethical and intellectual norms vital to the academy, if not Western civilization. Perhaps most persistent among these critics is [[Richard Wolin]], who has argued extensively in support of this thesis with regards to Derrida and more or less all of his major inspirations (Bataille, Blanchot, Levinas, Heidegger, Nietzsche, and so on). Wolin ran afoul of Derrida by publishing what Derrida argued was a demonstrably "execrable" and intentionally malicious mistranslation of a Derrida interview on Heidegger "in a book [[The Heidegger Controversy]] that, as is my right, I judge to be weak, simplistic, and compulsively aggressive". As French law requires the consent of an author to translations and such permission was not given, Derrida insisted that the interview not appear in any subsequent editions or reprints. Columbia University Press subsequently refused to offer reprints or new editions, and the book was offered in later editions without the Derrida interview by the MIT Press. The matter achieved public exposure owing to a friendly review of Wolin's book by [[Thomas Sheehan]], entitled "A Normal Nazi" and appearing in the ''New York Review of Books,'' in which Sheehan characterised Derrida's protests as an imposition of censorship. It was followed by an exchange of letters. [http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2658], [http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2591]. Derrida has responded to Sheehan and Wolin in "The Work of Intellectuals and the Press (The Bad Example: How the New York Review of Books and Company do Business)," which was published in the book ''Points...''. More generally, the "ethical turn" in deconstruction has also (indirectly) addressed these attacks.
 
 
 
Finally, Derrida is a popular scapegoat of the American conservative movement in their critiques of a perceived leftist bias in universities. These critiques are, in many ways, less critiques of Derrida than of universities &mdash; he is generally invoked as someone so self-evidently absurd that no further argument need be made &mdash; the mere fact that English departments rely on Derrida is taken as clear proof of their flaws. Needless to say, most within the academy find these critiques reductive.
 
 
 
==Politics==
 
Derrida was not known to have participated in any conventional electoral [[political party]] until 1995, when he joined a committee in support of [[Lionel Jospin|Lionel Jospin's]] (by then the stepfather of Daniel, his son with [[Sylviane Agacinski]]) [[Socialist]] candidacy, although he expressed misgivings about such organizations going back to [[Communist]] organizational efforts while he was a student at ENS.  In the last presidential election he refused to vote in the run-off between [[Jean-Marie Le Pen]] and [[Jacques Chirac]], citing a lack of acceptable choices. He was initially supportive of Parisian student protesters in May 1968 but later withdrew. He registered his objections to the [[Vietnam War]] in delivering "The Ends of Man" in the United States. In 1981 he was arrested by the [[Czechoslovakia]]n government upon leaving a conference in [[Prague]] that lacked government authorization, falsely charged with the "production and trafficking of drugs" he claimed were planted as he visited Kafka's grave.  He was released (or "expelled" as the Czechoslovakian government put it) after the interventions of the [[François Mitterrand|Mitterrand]] government, returning to [[Paris]] on 2 January 1982. He was active in cultural activities against the [[Apartheid]] government of [[South Africa]] and on behalf of [[Nelson Mandela]] beginning in 1983. He met with [[Palestinian]] intellectuals during a 1988 visit to [[Jerusalem]]. He was active in the collective "89 for equality", which campaigned for the right of immigrants to vote in local elections. He protested the [[death penalty]], dedicating his seminar in his last years to the production of a non-utilitarian argument for its abolition, and was active in the campaign to free [[Mumia Abu-Jamal]]. While supportive of the American government in the wake of [[September 11, 2001 attacks|9/11]], he opposed the [[2003 invasion of Iraq]]. See his book "Rogues" and his contribution to "Philosophy in a Time of Terror" with Giovanna Borradori and Jürgen Habermas.
 
 
 
Beyond these explicit political interventions, however, the political, particularly the idea of the nation - was continually central to his philosophy. Derrida noted in the "Ends of Man" that his ability to remark freely on the Vietnam War was a prerequisite to his attendance at American colloquia -- an exception underscoring the national rule. Not out of diplomatic concerns about offending the American "delegation", but because the ''democratic form'' (Derrida's emphasis and choice of words) of the event assumed an instability of these national identities, or rather non-identities, and it is with those Americans opposed to the war that Derrida wanted to state his solidarity, to assert that these so-called identities, frequently assumed, do not exist in fact. (The events of April and May 1968: commencement of the Paris peace talks, the [[U.S. presidential election, 1968|1968 American election]], the assassination of [[Martin Luther King]], and the later events of May 1968, particularly in Paris, led Derrida to mark off "democratic form", a certain obtuseness of governments to these phenomena.)
 
 
 
Moreover, in his later years, Derrida amplified the political character of earlier philosophical arguments. Derrida and many of his readers have insisted that a distinct political undertone pervades his texts since the very beginning of his carreer. Nevertheless, the attempt to understand the political implications of notions of responsibility, reason of state, the other, decision, sovereignty, Europe, friendship, difference, faith, and so on, became much more marked from the early 1990s on. In some ways, Derrida turned the ethical thought of Emmanuel Levinas toward a more distinctly political questioning, privileging Levinas' signature concern in favor a responsibility toward the other, and asking how it is possible to think about philosophy and politics in such terms. By 2000, theorizing the "democracy to come" as well as the limitations of democratic regimes had become an obsessive concern for Derrida.
 
 
 
==Derrida and his peers==
 
In addition to de Man and Lyotard, his approximate contemporaries, many of whom were philosophic allies and friends, included [[Michel Foucault]], [[Louis Althusser]], [[Emmanuel Levinas]], [[Maurice Blanchot]], [[Gilles Deleuze]], [[Jean-Luc Nancy]], [[Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe]], [[Sarah Kofman]], [[Hélène Cixous]], [[Bernard Stiegler]], and [[Geoffrey Bennington]].
 
 
 
===Paul de Man===
 
''Main article: [[Paul de Man]]''
 
 
 
Perhaps the most known friendship of Derrida's intellectual life was his friendship with Paul de Man. This friendship became the source of one of Derrida's most criticized essays, "Like the Sound of the Sea Deep Within a Shell: Paul de Man's War," published in the journal [[Critical Inquiry]] following de Man's death. The occasion of the essay was a controversy that erupted when it was discovered that de Man had written essays in a pro-Nazi newspaper during the German occupation of Belgium, including several that were explicitly anti-Semitic.
 
 
 
Derrida's essay is a defense of de Man, with its main claim being that one cannot simply define all of de Man's work in light of some newspaper articles from his 20s, arguing that any claims about de Man as a whole must take de Man's work as a whole into account. The essay becomes controversial, however, for a short section&mdash;about five pages in length, out of over 40 in the article&mdash;in which Derrida applies deconstruction to de Man's essays. This section, read by many as attempting to argue that de Man's essays did not contain the anti-Semitic sentiments that they were generally seen as obviously containing, was widely criticized, leading to a flurry of responses nearly filling a subsequent issue of ''[[Critical Inquiry]]'' and his response to them. Many commentators have considered the subsequent ethical or theological turn in deconstruction as seeking to specifically address the critique leveled at Derrida for this defense.
 
 
 
===Derrida's Translators===
 
Geoffrey Bennington, Avital Ronell and Samuel Weber belong to a group of translators, many of whom are esteemed thinkers in their own right, with whom Derrida worked in a collaborative arrangement, allowing his prodigious output to be translated in a timely fashion. Having started as a student of de Man, [[Gayatri Spivak]] took on the translation of ''Of Grammatology'' early in her career and has since revised it into a second edition. [[Alan Bass]] was responsible for several early translations; Bennington and [[Peggy Kamuf]] have continued to produce translations of his work for nearly twenty years.  In recent years, a number of translations have appeared by Michael Naas (also a Derrida scholar) and Pascale-Anne Brault. With Bennington, Derrida undertook the challenge published as ''Derrida'', an arrangement in which Bennington attempted to provide a systematic explication of Derrida's work (called the ''Derridabase'') using the top two-thirds of every page, while Derrida was given the finished copy of every Bennington chapter and the bottom third of every page in which to show how deconstruction exceeded Bennington's account (this was called the [[Circumfession]]). Derrida referred to Bennington on more than one occasion as, his 'rabbinical explicator'.  Virtually all of the aforementioned translators have produced essays and book-length manuscripts on Derrida's work which are recommended often to students searching for secondary literature.
 
 
 
===Controversies and mourning===
 
Derrida's relationship with many of his contemporaries was marked by disagreements and rifts. For example, Derrida's criticism of Foucault in the essay "Cogito and the History of Madness" (from ''Writing and Difference''), first given as a lecture which Foucault attended, caused a rift between the two men that was never fully mended.
 
 
 
Whatever the outcome of these discussions, Derrida was often left in the unappealing position of having an opportunity for the last word in too many, as he outlived many of his peers. Death and mourning are foundational to the analysis which lead Derrida to his understanding of inheritance, interpretation, and responsibility. Beginning with "The Deaths of Roland Barthes" in 1981, Derrida produced a series of texts on mourning and memory occasioned by the loss of his friends and colleagues, many of them new engagements with their work. ''Memoires for Paul de Man'', a book-length lecture series presented first at Yale and then at Irvine as Derrida's Wellek Lecture, followed in 1986, with a revision in 1989 that included "Like the Sound of the Sea Deep Within a Shell: Paul de Man's War". Ultimately fourteen essays were collected into ''The Work of Mourning'', which was expanded in the French edition ''Chaque fois unique, la fin du monde'' (literally, ''The end of the world, unique each time'') to include essays dedicated to [[Gérard Granel]] and Maurice Blanchot...
 
 
 
==Online texts==
 
===Essays, excerpts===
 
*[http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/fr/derrida.htm Excerpt from "Of Grammatology"]
 
*[http://www.hydra.umn.edu/derrida/arch.html Excerpt from "Archive Fever"]
 
*[http://www.hydra.umn.edu/derrida/hegel.html "Speech and writing according to Hegel"]
 
*[http://www.hydra.umn.edu/derrida/spectres.html Excerpt from "Spectres of Marx"]
 
*[http://www.hydra.umn.edu/derrida/diff.html Excerpt from the famous speech "Différance"]
 
*[http://www.hydra.umn.edu/derrida/letter.html "Letter to a Japanese Friend"]
 
*[http://www.hydra.umn.edu/derrida/sign-play.html "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences"]
 
*[http://www.hydra.umn.edu/derrida/sec.html Excerpt from "Signature, Event, Context"]
 
 
 
===Interviews===
 
*[http://www.hydra.umn.edu/derrida/olivier.html ''Derrida: Artaud et ses doubles.'' Rencontre avec Jean-Michel Olivier]
 
*[http://www.hydra.umn.edu/derrida/so.html "Excuse me, but I never said exactly so"]
 
*[http://www.hydra.umn.edu/derrida/ami.html Interview, in French, with Robert Maggiori]
 
*[http://www.csun.edu/coms/grad/jd.nik.html Interview with Nikhil Padgaonkar] on Love
 
*[http://www1.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf/Microsoft%20Word%20-%203851.pdf Interview with Michael Ben-Naftali, Shoah Resource Center] on Holocaust and Forgiveness
 
 
 
==Bibliography==
 
The most complete bibliography available online can be found [http://www.hydra.umn.edu/derrida/jdind.html at this site]. The compilation, copyrighted by Peter Krapp, is still in progress, but all major works are listed, sorted [http://www.hydra.umn.edu/derrida/jdalf.html by title] or [http://www.hydra.umn.edu/derrida/jdyr.html by year of publication].
 
 
 
===Selected works by Derrida ===
 
(see [[Jacques Derrida Bibliography]])
 
 
 
* ''“Speech and Phenomena” and other essays on Husserl’s Theory of Signs'', trans. David B. Allison (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1973).
 
* ''Of Grammatology'', (hardcover: ISBN 0801818419, paperback: ISBN 0801818796, corrected edition: ISBN 0801858305) trans. [[Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak]] (Baltimore, MA and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976).
 
* ''The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and beyond'', trans. Alan Bass (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1987).
 
* "Letter to a Japanese Friend," in ''Derrida and Différance'', (ISBN 0810107864) eds. [[Robert Bernasconi]] and [[David Wood]], 1988*
 
* ''Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International'', trans. Peggy Kamuf (New York and London: Routledge, 1994).
 
* ''Resistances of Psychoanalysis'', trans. Peggy Kamuf, Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998).
 
* ''Points...: Interviews 1974-1994'', trans. Peggy Kamuf and others, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997).
 
* ''Without Alibi'', trans. and ed. Peggy Kamuf (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002).
 
* "Nietzsche and the Machine," w/ Richard Beardsworth, in ''Negotiations,'' (ISBN 0804738920) ed. [[Elizabeth Rottenberg]], 2002*
 
* "Autoimmunity: Real and Symbolic Suicides", w/ [[Giovanna Borradori]], in ''Philosophy in a Time of Terror,'' (ISBN 0226066649) ed. Giovanna Borradori 2003 *
 
* ''Writing and Difference'', trans. Alan Bass (London and New York: Routledge, 2004). (Originally published in 1967.)
 
* ''Rogues: Two Essays on Reason'', (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004).
 
 
 
===Works on Derrida===
 
*  "Spirit's Spirit Spirits Spirit," Geoffrey Bennington, in ''Legislations'' (ISBN 0860916685)*
 
*  "The Differends of Man", Avital Ronell, in ''Finitude's Score'' (ISBN 0803239114)*
 
* ''Interrupting Derrida'', (ISBN 0415224276) Geoffrey Bennington
 
* ''Later Derrida'', (ISBN 0415942691) Herman Rapaport
 
* ''Derrida and the Political,'' (ISBN 0415109671) Richard Beardsworth
 
* ''Jacques Derrida and the Humanities: a Critical Reader,'' (ISBN 0521625653) ed. Tom Cohen
 
* ''Philosophy and the Turn to Religion'' (ISBN 0801859956) and ''Religion and Violence: Philosophical Perspectives from Kant to Derrida'' (ISBN 0801867681), Hent de Vries
 
 
 
<nowiki>*</nowiki>referenced above
 
 
 
===Works by others referenced above===
 
*  ''Being and Time'', Martin Heidegger
 
*  "Only a God Can Save Us" (''Der Spiegel'' interview), in ''Philosophical and Political Writings'', Martin Heidegger, ed. Manfred Stassen
 
 
 
==See also==
 
*[[Continental philosophy]]
 
*[[Deconstruction]]
 
*[[Derrida (film)]]
 
*[[Logocentrism]]
 
*[[Post-structuralism]]
 
 
 
==External links==
 
{{wikiquote}}
 
 
 
*[http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4918450564764113529&q=derrida&pl=true New York Remembers Derrida video]
 
*[http://www.ubishops.ca/baudrillardstudies/vol2_1/derrida.htm Passings: Taking Derrida Seriously]
 
*[http://prelectur.stanford.edu/lecturers/derrida/ ''Jacques Derrida'', Stanford Presidential Lectures in the Humanities and Arts]
 
*[http://www.hydra.umn.edu/derrida/ ''Derrida: Online'']
 
*[http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/hopkins_guide_to_literary_theory/jacques_derrida.html ''Jacques Derrida'', Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory]
 
*[http://www.vusst.hr/ENCYCLOPAEDIA/derrida-education.htm ''Jacques Derrida as a Philosopher of Education'', Encyclopaedia of Philosophy of Education]
 
*[http://jac.gsu.edu/jac/10/Articles/1.htm ''Jacques Derrida on Rhetoric and Composition: A Conversation'', JAC]
 
*[http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/066649.html ''9/11 and Global Terrorism: A Dialogue with Jacques Derrida'', excerpt from ''Philosophy in a Time of Terror &mdash; Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida'' by Giovanna Borradori]
 
*[http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft9703/opinion/mckenna.html ''Derrida, Death, and Forgiveness'', First Things, Journal of Religion and Public Life]
 
*[http://www.nyu.edu/classes/stephens/Jacques%20Derrida%20-%20LAT%20page.htm ''Deconstructing Jacques Derrida'', Los Angeles Times Magazine]
 
*[http://www.nyu.edu/classes/stephens/Jacques%20Derrida%20-%20NYT%20-%20page.htm ''Jacques Derrida and Deconstruction'', The New York Times Magazine]
 
*[http://www.csun.edu/coms/grad/jd.nik.html Jacques Derrida Interview on Love]
 
*[http://www.sussex.ac.uk/Units/frenchthought/derrida.htm Geoffrey Bennington: Politics and Friendship &mdash; A Discussion with Jacques Derrida]
 
*[http://www.indymedia.be/print.php?id=83123 For a justice to come: An interview with Jacques Derrida]
 
*[http://www.atelierleonhardt.de/derrida.htm Adorno Prize page]
 
*[http://www.lemonde.fr/web/dh/0,14-0@14-0@2-3208,39-23746506,0.html ''Décès du philosophe Jacques Derrida'' &mdash; Le Monde newspaper]
 
*[http://www.fluidimagination.com/2005/03/noblesse_and_ab.html An article on Derrida and Heidegger at www.fluidimagination.com]
 
*[http://www.humanities.uci.edu/remembering_jd/ Controversial Even After Death: Scholars sign a letter of protest over Derrida's ''New York Times'' obituary]
 
*[http://www.sicetnon.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=PagEd&file=index&topic_id=2&page_id=71 Derrida's Specters of Marx and The Recognition of Pointless Identity]
 
*'''[http://www.deconstructioninmusic.com Deconstruction in Music]''' by Marcel Cobussen. Interactive dissertation on deconstruction in the music of [[Johann Sebastian Bach]], [[John Zorn]] and [[John Cage]].
 
  
[[Category:1930 births|Derrida, Jacques]]
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[[Category:20th century philosophers|Derrida, Jacques]]
 
[[Category:Algerian writers|Derrida, Jacques]]
 
[[Category:Alumni of the École Normale Supérieure|Derrida, Jacques]]
 
[[Category:Continental philosophers|Derrida, Jacques]]
 
[[Category:Critical theory|Derrida, Jacques]]
 
[[Category:Deconstruction|Derrida, Jacques]]
 
[[Category:Fascist/Nazi era scholars and writers|Derrida, Jacques]]
 
[[Category:French philosophers|Derrida, Jacques]]
 
[[Category:Literary critics|Derrida, Jacques]]
 
 
[[Category:Postmodern theory|Derrida, Jacques]]
 
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[[Category:People]]
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[[Category:Slavoj Žižek|Derrida, Jacques]]
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[[Category:Looking Awry|Derrida, Jacques]]
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[[Category:Zizek Dictionary]]

Latest revision as of 16:38, 25 May 2019

Jacques Derrida (July 15, 1930 – October 8, 2004) was an Algerian-born French literary critic and philosopher of Jewish descent, most often referenced as the founder of "deconstruction" or, by more unsympathetic theorists, "deconstructionism".

Abraham's sacrifice 321-2
Descartes's withdrawal-into-self 34
on Heidegger 9-10
ontology versus heauntology 238
pure notion of gift 56
On the Spint 9

In the work of Slavoj Žižek

Žižek’s encounters with Derrida belong to a tradition of mutual Lacanian– Derridean agonistics in which Derrida’s thinking was initially dismissed as mere “textualism”. From the reminder that phenomena take recognizable shape only through interpretative artifice, and that an irreducible gap remains between event and its linguistic description (Derrida 1976: 158), it was too quickly concluded that Derrida eradicates any referent and, in an auto-created world of self-referential textuality, celebrates a free play of differences without purchase on reality and too playfully ironic to be practically relevant.

Sensitive to Derrida’s (Derrida 2003: 87–8) objections, Žižek belongs to another generation of critics. Retaining the assumption that Derrida sharply divides text from referent, or equally “phenomenal” from “absolute Other”, Žižek’s charge is the reverse of textual narcissism (“Th e Real of Sexual Diff erence”). Supposedly, in a Levinasian about-turn, the “later Derrida” negates the textual imagination (e.g. legal systems, political measures) to preserve a pure, transcendent referent (a hypostatized absolute Other such as justice itself). “Derrida’s operation”, Žižek argues, merely turns from “textualism” to a different, but equally practically impotent, impossibility. He argues that Lacanian logic, represented inter alia through Lacan’s “Borromean knot”, copes better with the complexities of ethical practice.

The Lacan–Derrida encounter is consistently based on mutual misconstrual, and Žižek’s reading is no exception. However, unpacking his misinterpretation of Derrida’s operation has the value of clarifying Lacan’s ontological stance concerning the traumatic Real and the complex logic of human appropriation, which, incidentally, finds allegiance, not opposition, in Derrida’s operation, properly understood in terms of the “plural logic of the aporia”.

Using Creon and Antigone as metonyms for two extreme attitudes (“unprincipled pragmatism” and “totalitarianism”), Žižek takes up Derrida’s insistence that one ignores at one’s peril the irreducible gap between economic, phenomenal reality (the human law Creon invokes) and the aneconomic, transcendent Divine Other (obeyed by Antigone). To close the gap by denying all transcendent Otherness in the name of phenomenal reality can only be to promote the unprincipled pragmatism exemplified by Creon, whose refusal to contravene the letter of human law makes of him “a pragmatic state politician, mercilessly crushing any activity that would destabilize the smooth functioning of the state and civil peace” (“The Real of Sexual Difference”: 68). However, to leave open the gap by submitting phenomenal reality to a hypostatized Divinity is instead to risk “totalitarianism”. Antigone remains blindly faithful to the singular call of the Divine, which nobody else can understand. As a proto-totalitarian, her “decision” to bury her brother is the result not of careful deliberation but of her insistence on her Divine, sovereign right to do just what she decides, whatever it is.

Between unprincipled pragmatism and totalitarianism, one faces what Lacan (SXI: 210–12) calls “the mugger’s choice” (i.e. the injunction to choose “your money or your life”). Th is is no choice at all: a circularity persists whereby, in choosing one option, the other is lost; yet, because they are interdependent, this is also to lose the original choice. Negatively, in rejecting one option and gaining the other, one thereby regains the rejected original. Fearing the terror of singular totalitarianism, which threatens the social edifice, one might institute a shared, regulatory legal economy that aims instead for justice. However, the consequence of perfecting this economy by eradicating “evils” (unfairness, singularities, etc.) is not the hoped-for justice, but rigid prescriptions that apply badly “from above” to dynamic ethical realities. Ironically, when laws prevail over justice, law becomes totalitarian. Conversely, fearing the merciless strictures of unbending law, one might, like Antigone, answer to an anarchic, singular idea of “Justice itself” (“Th e Real of Sexual Difference”: 67). But all individuals, then, may legitimately apply personally held supreme principles at their own discretion. Th e consequence of this successful “totalitarianism”, where no overall principle suffices to arbitrate between power struggles, must be unprincipled pragmatism. Th is lose/lose circularity suggests that viable ethical practice cannot depend on either/or choices between binary opposites.

On the impotence of binary thinking, Žižek and Derrideans concur. Žižek claims, however, that Derrida cannot off er an adequate heuristic to negotiate the “mugger’s choice” between immanence (Creon) and transcendence (Antigone), because his thinking remains trapped within a religious matrix that understands the Real in terms of sharply opposing ontological spheres. Derrida, for example, “retains the irreducible opposition between … the messianic call of justice and its ‘ontologization’, its transposition into a set of positive legal and political measures” (“Th e Real of Sexual Difference”: 65). Further, all “determinate economico-political measures” will betray the transcendent principle of, for example, justice because Derrida has merely replaced a problematic positive figure of the absolute Other, associated with the “metaphysics of presence”, with its equally problematic conception as a hypostatized absolute absence. Th is means that our relationship with the Other cannot be one of active hermeneutic uncovering. Instead, we must respect the purity of the absolute Other by renouncing any determinate structure involving real people in real circumstances and embracing a “primordial passivity, sentiency, of responding, of being infinitely indebted to and responsible for the call of an Otherness that never acquires positive features” (ibid.). This move, Žižek argues, underpins the unacceptable “lesson of deconstruction”: facing the impossible, we may justly renounce any demand for determinate decisions concerning practical measures.

By contrast, Žižek adopts Lacan’s supposedly alternative understanding of the Real as one ontological region, whose “immanent transcendence” presents as trauma. Lacan argues that the Other can neither be hypostatized nor negated and thus, as Copjec notes, “eternally returns or repeats” (Copjec 2002: 96). The “hard kernel” of the Real that halts analytical interpretation because we cannot make complete sense of it is also a seed, as disseminative as différance, because we are obliged nevertheless to strive for sense. Th is describes the dynamic of immanent “sublimation”. It is in its determinate interpretations that an event is constituted as a phenomenon, but precisely because they cannot be definitive these interpretations themselves require interpretation. Th us the determination of an event endlessly calls for more determination and the event becomes self-transcending.

To explain why Žižek’s encounter with Derrida is misconceived, one must address Derrida’s adjudication between phenomenology and Levinasian ethics in “Violence and Metaphysics” (Derrida 1978: 79–153). Ironically, Žižek’s critique of “Derrida’s operation” precisely echoes Derrida’s critique of Levinas for: (a) opposing a centripetal Greek spirit of totality (sameness, immanence, history, philosophy) to a centrifugal, eschatological, implicitly “Hebraic”, spirit of infinity (otherness, transcendence, ethics); (b) insisting on an abyssal gap between these poles; (c) assuming an either/or choice between supposed opposites; and (d) rejecting what he sees as violent, phenomenological “totalization” for the pure non-violence of an appeal to infinity, which he calls Ethics (Derrida 1978: 82–3). Derrida shows in multiple ways that Levinas’s insistence on the purity of the wholly Other remains inconsistent, since his discourse in fact requires the “contaminating” phenomenology he rejects (ibid.: 133). Derrida argues accordingly that we have no access to any pure spirit of non-violence, but can only choose the passage of least possible violence between the paralysing extremes of totality and infinity. This passage, he argues, is achieved better by Husserl than Levinas. For Levinas, the alterity of the wholly Other is respected only by abandoning hermeneutic uncovering. Phenomenology, by contrast, can tolerate the inescapable violence of active appropriation by accepting that inadequation (the impossibility of perfect evidence) marks transcendence. Th is imperfection accommodates both an indefinite potential in the other for phenomenality (for showing, illumination and evidence) and respects its alterity (its wonder, terror, surprises and secrets). Derrida does appreciate Levinas’s power to highlight the structural violation of otherness built into traditional philosophy (including phenomenology). Against strict Husserlian phenomenology, he launches an adapted wholly Other, which points not to an external Other in opposition to the sphere of immanence, but to the unpredictability inscribed within every immanent horizon of expectation, which opens all phenomena to potentially traumatic shattering. Th is precisely aligns his discourse with the paradox of “immanent transcendence” described in Lacan’s version of the traumatic Real.

To deal with this ontology of immanent transcendence in order to show, for example, that genuinely ethical action is neither purely phenomenal (obedience to moral codes) nor a passive, abject response to the call of an inscrutable Other, both Lacan and Derrida develop complex logics of contamination. As Žižek explains, to understand the logical structure underpinning Antigone’s act as an act of decision rather than proto-totalitarianism, one must develop a “spectral analysis” of the “other” as a three-fold concept. Th e imaginary Other names other people like me (my neighbour as my mirror image); the symbolic “big Other” refers to the impersonal codes that coordinate intersubjective co-existence; and “the impossible Thing” indicates an unfathomable, monstrous otherness in every person (“The Real of Sexual Difference”: 70).

Notably, this is aligned with Derrida’s contention that terms like “the other” cannot cohere, since they encompass incompatible senses, which can neither be reduced to one another nor ordered hierarchically. Instead, these senses are bound together in complex forms like the Borromean knot of circular opposition and interdependence. Here the linkage between them is such that each holds the other two together and apart in a tensioned relationship, and suspending one term engenders the collapse of the other two. To understand Antigone’s act, Žižek explains, one must first note that the monstrous Thing only becomes a “fellow human like me” through a third, mediating agency: the impersonal Symbolic Order to which all of us are willing to submit. To suspend the functioning of the Symbolic Order, as Antigone did, is to collapse the border between knowable “friendly neighbour” and unfathomable “monstrous Thing” (ibid.).

Žižek argues that the ethical act, the moment of genuine decision, is made possible only when the symbolic order is suspended and the actual Antigone becomes the Thing. In this brief, passing moment of collapse, she herself becomes singular, unfathomable and inimitable. Th us she excludes herself from the networks that constitute communal life, becoming the traumatic cause of her own framework of value. But the moment of decision is fleeting. Caputo articulates precisely this insight in Derridean terms, where he argues that justice slips our grasp. To pin justice to an event by drawing maxims from a decision, or to individuals by calling them just, is to lose what justice “is”, for in the former case justice is reduced to the application of rules, whereas in the latter justice is reduced to a knowable character trait in the friendly neighbour. Justice “appears” only “in a singular action in a singular situation, and this only for the while that it lasts, in the instant of decision” (Caputo 1997: 138). This is just as well, for were this not the case no intersubjective life would be possible at all.

To re-establish intersubjective life subsequent to the decisive moment, the world’s Antigones and their communities must come to terms with (make sense of, codify) the traumatic reconfiguration of value, and therefore face again Creon’s kind of unprincipled pragmatism that the decision disrupted. Derrida argues that without this circular predicament, there would be no call for decisions, but only calculative application of laws under the illusion that we know enough, or the abdication of responsibility under the illusion that we know nothing. But it is because individuals can neither know for sure nor claim absolute ignorance that we are subject to the singularizing trauma of making decisions and taking responsibility for them. The “lesson of deconstruction” sounds rather a lot like the “lesson of psychoanalysis”.

References