The Philosophy of Derrida

The Philosophy of Derrida

Mark Dooley
Liam Kavanagh
Copyright Date: 2007
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    The Philosophy of Derrida
    Book Description:

    For more than forty years Jacques Derrida unsettled and challenged the presumptions underlying our most fundamental philosophical, political, and ethical conventions. In The Philosophy of Derrida, Mark Dooley and Liam Kavanagh provide a succinct overview of his core philosophical ideas and a balanced appraisal of their lasting impact. The authors' analysis of Derrida's writings, especially the objectives of deconstruction, make his work clearly accessible. Dooley and Kavanagh also situate Derrida within historicist, hermeneutic, and linguistic thought. From his early work on Husserl, Hegel, and de Saussure to his final writings on justice, hospitality, and cosmopolitanism, Derrida is shown to have been grappling with the question of national, cultural, and personal identity and the notion of whether a "pure" identity has any real efficacy. Rather than an iconoclast for whom deconstruction equalled destruction, the Derrida that emerges in this study sheds light on our historical constructions to reveal that there is much about ourselves that we do not know.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9491-3
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. x-xii)
  5. CHAPTER ONE The catastrophe of memory: identity and mourning
    (pp. 1-20)

    On the first day of school in 1942, the twelve-year-old Jacques Derrida was expelled from the Lycée de Ben Aknoun, near El-Biar in Algeria. Two years previously, in October 1940, the French citizenship that had formerly been granted to Algerian Jews by the Crémieux Decree of 1870 was abruptly withdrawn. And when segregation laws were subsequently introduced in Algeria in March 1941, all Jews were prohibited from working in the liberal professions, and Jewish children were expelled from elementary and secondary schools to meet segregationist quotas. The decision by the Vichy administration at once denied the Jewish community their right...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Death and différance: philosophy and language
    (pp. 21-66)

    Derrida is primarily a philosopher of language. He devoted his entire career to demonstrating how all of our experience is mediated by language, writing and textuality. We can never have access to any kind of experience that would not already be structured by language. The only way we can comprehend anything at all is if we can conceptualize it to some degree. But what does this have to do with memory? Historical memory, the desire to recollect and preserve the past, is only possible by means of texts and documents, monuments and archives, all of which are forms of what...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Repetition and post cards: psychoanalysis and phenomenology
    (pp. 67-106)

    In this chapter we shall discuss the considerable influence of Freud, Husserl and Heidegger on the work of Derrida. We cannot underestimate the influence of these three thinkers on Derrida’s deconstructive project. Derrida’s first writings, his earliest articulation of the problems and questions that would occupy him throughout his life were a direct result of his critical engagement with Husserl’s phenomenology, and the figures of Freud and Heidegger recur again and again throughout his work. Indeed, many of Derrida’s deconstructive strategies – the trace, difference and deferral, the critique of presence – are prefigured in the works of these seminal...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR The risks of negotiation: ethics and politics
    (pp. 107-148)

    The work of mourning is always an ethics and a politics of memory. As we have seen, the archive preserves the memory of the past while affirming the fact that memory is always selective and incomplete. There is no such thing as a neutral archive. This means that the question of memory is also a question of responsibility. How we think about identity and the past determines how we think about justice and the future. How we archive the identity of the holocaust, for example, determines our commitment to render justice to the dead. All identity is archival, which means...

  9. Afterword
    (pp. 149-152)

    Jacques Derrida died on 8 October 2004. What, in the end, is his legacy to the history of ideas? There are those, many eminent philosophers among them, who believe that Derrida was a charlatan undeserving of his fame and importance. One such person is English philosopher Roger Scruton. In his bookModern Culture(2005), Scruton argues that Derrid’as deconstruction has become:

    ... the pillar of the new establishment, and the badge of conformity that the literary apparatchik must now wear. But in this it is no different from other subversive doctrines: Marxism, for example, Leninism and Maoism. Just as pop...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 153-156)
  11. Suggestions for further reading
    (pp. 157-158)
  12. References
    (pp. 159-160)
  13. Index
    (pp. 161-164)