"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", "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. For Derrida [...] this is irresponsibility itself. It seeks to find the differences, contradictions, paradoxes, ambiguity and disintegration (in short, loopholes) in the text. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. 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. It's the 'whole' of the metal itself and the 'holes' in between that make up the future building's shape. "John R. Searle" in Irene Rima Makaryk (ed). It is an approach that may be deployed in philosophy, in literary analysis, and even in the analysis of scientific writings. As nouns the difference between formalism and deconstruction is that formalism is strict adherence to a given form of conduct, practice etc while deconstruction is a philosophical theory of textual criticism; a form of critical analysis. Deconstruction is a term in contemporary philosophy, literary criticism, and the social sciences, denoting a process by which the texts and languages of Western philosophy (in particular) appear to shift and complicate in meaning when read in light of the assumptions and absences they reveal within themselves. The theory of deconstruction as it is today was formed in the 20th century, partially as a reaction to authoritarian censorship and realism. Simply put, deconstruction is the systematic disassembly (“unbuilding”) of a structure by hand in order to salvage the maximum economic and environmental value of materials through reuse and recycling. Many debates in continental philosophy surrounding ontology, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, hermeneutics, and philosophy of language refer to Derrida's observations. 95-97, Structure, Sign, and Play in the Human Sciences, "German Law Journal - Past Special Issues", "Deconstruction in Music. Deconstruction, in essence, allows the reader to “take apart” a text in order to decipher a new meaning. Derrida describes the task of deconstruction as the identification of metaphysics of presence, or logocentrism in western philosophy. Deconstruction is a related term of structuralism. He provides an introduction to the debates and issues of postmodernist history. Deconstruction is breaking something down into smaller parts. 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. :3 Commentator Richard Beardsworth explains that: Derrida is careful to avoid this term [method] because it carries connotations of a procedural form of judgement. Deconstruction is breaking something down into smaller parts. deconstruction definition: 1. the act of breaking something down into its separate parts in order to understand its meaning…. [...] 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.. We made fun of them. According to this opposition, speech is a more authentic form of language, because in speech the ideas and intentions of the speaker are immediately “present” (spoken words, in this idealized picture, directly express what the speaker “has in mind”), whereas in writing they are more remote or “absent” from the speaker or author and thus more liable to misunderstanding. The argument goes as follows: 1. However, Derrida resisted attempts to label his work as "post-structuralist". This group came to be known as the Yale school and was especially influential in literary criticism. Though Deconstruction is primarily understood as a theory of TEXTUALITY and as a method for reading texts, it constitutes for many a radically new way of seeing and knowing the world. For Derrida the concept of neutrality is suspect and dogmatism is therefore involved in everything to a certain degree.  Here, the meaning of a text does not reside with the author or the author's intentions because it is dependent on the interaction between reader and text. 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. ... deconstruction - a philosophical theory of criticism (usually of literature or film) that seeks to expose deep-seated contradictions in a work by delving below its surface meaning. Not only are the topological differences between the words relevant here, but the differentials between what is signified is also covered by différance. In its simplest form it can be regarded as a criticism of Platonism and the idea of true forms, or essences, which take precedence over appearances. This would be an irresponsible act of reading, because it becomes a prejudicial procedure that only finds what it sets out to find. One of the two terms governs the other (axiologically, logically, etc. For Derrida, the most telling and pervasive opposition is the one that treats writing as secondary to or derivative of speech. Marian Hobson. One indication of this fact, according to Derrida, is that descriptions of speech in Western philosophy often rely on examples and metaphors related to writing. Deconstruction, in essence, allows the reader to “take apart” a text in order to decipher a new meaning. It was originated by the philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930–2004), who defined the term variously throughout his career. Actually, Deconstruction is more a way of reading than a theory of literature, and it aims to show how texts deconstruct or contradict themselves. For Rousseau, then, nature is prior to culture. Derrida states that deconstruction is not a critique in the Kantian sense. :133, In 1995, Searle gave a brief reply to Derrida in The Construction of Social Reality. 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. Derrida claimed that all of his essays were attempts to define what deconstruction is,:4 and that deconstruction is necessarily complicated and difficult to explain since it actively criticises the very language needed to explain it. Derrida and Hillis Miller were subsequently affiliated with the University of California, Irvine. It rejects traditional readings and instead, calls readers to seek out contradictory viewpoints and analysis. 12. As Derrida argues, however, spoken words function as linguistic signs only to the extent that they can be repeated in different contexts, in the absence of the speaker who originally utters them. [page needed]. Deconstruction Theory. Encyclopedia of contemporary literary theory: approaches, scholars, terms.  As a consequence, meaning is never present, but rather is deferred to other signs. In popular usage the term has come to mean a critical dismantling of tradition and traditional modes of thought. The American philosopher Walter A. Davis, in Inwardness and Existence: Subjectivity in/and Hegel, Heidegger, Marx and Freud, argues that both deconstruction and structuralism are prematurely arrested moments of a dialectical movement that issues from Hegelian "unhappy consciousness". By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. A survey of the secondary literature reveals a wide range of heterogeneous arguments. Examples include nature and culture, speech and writing, mind and body, presence and absence, inside and outside, literal and metaphorical, intelligible and sensible, and form and meaning, among many others. Metaphysics of presence is the desire for immediate access to meaning, the privileging of presence over absence. Yet there is another sense in which culture is certainly prior to nature: the idea of nature is a product of culture, and what counts as “nature” or “natural” at any given historical moment will vary depending upon the culture of the time. This explains why Derrida always proposes new terms in his deconstruction, not as a free play but from the necessity of analysis. This being merely one historical event amongst many, Nietzsche proposes that we revisualize the history of the West as the history of a series of political moves, that is, a manifestation of the will to power, that at bottom have no greater or lesser claim to truth in any noumenal (absolute) sense. Most of the criticism of deconstruction were first articulated by these philosophers then repeated elsewhere. Deconstruction is the term that has been used to describe Derrida’s “method.” If we accept this provisionally as an acceptable usage (we will qualify it later) we must take note of some important features. Deconstruction begins, as it were, from a refusal of the authority or determining power of every 'is', or simply from a refusal of authority in general.  Commentators have frequently interpreted the exchange as a prominent example of a confrontation between analytic and continental philosophies. 1993. Speech qualifies as language, in other words, only to the extent that it has characteristics traditionally assigned to writing, such as “absence,” “difference” (from the original context of utterance), and the possibility of misunderstanding. '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. Learn more. In his brief reply to Derrida, "Reiterating the Differences: A Reply to Derrida", Searle argued that Derrida's critique was unwarranted because it assumed that Austin's theory attempted to give a full account of language and meaning when its aim was much narrower. Ø Deconstruction is a post-structuralist theory which was initiated by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida. Deconstruction, Derrida says, only points to the necessity of an unending analysis that can make explicit the decisions and hierarchies intrinsic to all texts. Deconstructionism (or sometimes just Deconstruction) is a 20th Century school in philosophy initiated by Jacques Derrida in the 1960s. Deconstruction Introduction You Can Do It. An assertion that texts outlive their authors, and become part of a set of cultural habits equal to, if not surpassing, the importance of authorial intent. Jacques Derrida, the 20th century French literary theorist, pioneered the school of thought in literature and philosophy known as “deconstructionism.” Deconstructionists were part of a larger movement, known as the “post-modern” movement. [page needed]. This approach to text is influenced by the semiology of Ferdinand de Saussure.. Consequently, some critics[who? Derrida's concerns flow from a consideration of several issues: To this end, Derrida follows a long line of modern philosophers, who look backwards to Plato and his influence on the Western metaphysical tradition. Deconstruction influences the thinking of the society. In the early 1970s, Searle had a brief exchange with Jacques Derrida regarding speech-act theory. Derrida states that deconstruction is an "antistructuralist gesture" because "[s]tructures were to be undone, decomposed, desedimented". Because deconstruction examines the internal logic of any given text or discourse it has helped many authors to analyse the contradictions inherent in all schools of thought; and, as such, it has proved revolutionary in political analysis, particularly ideology critiques. ", An approach to understanding the relationship between text and meaning, Derrida, "Structure, Sign, and Play" (1966), as printed/translated by Macksey & Donato (1970), Gregor Campbell. 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.. Derrida states that "the motif of deconstruction has been associated with 'post-structuralism'", but that this term was "a word unknown in France until its 'return' from the United States". The same happens, of course, with adjectives: when must we stop saying "yellow" and start saying "orange", or exchange "past" for "present"? Structuralism viewed language as a number of signs, composed of a signified (the meaning) and a signifier (the word itself). 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. This means that there is an assumed bias in certain binary oppositions where one side is placed in a position over another, such as good over bad, speech over the written word, male over female. For Derrida, speech and writing are both forms of a more generalized “arche-writing” (archi-écriture), which encompasses not only all of natural language but any system of representation whatsoever. Its apparently solid ground is no rock, but thin air.". At the heart of the deconstructionist theory of interpretation are two primary ideas. Jacques Derrida's 1967 book Of Grammatology introduced the majority of ideas influential within deconstruction. There have been problems defining deconstruction. deconstruction definition: 1. the act of breaking something down into its separate parts in order to understand its meaning…. … :194 An example of genesis would be the sensory ideas from which knowledge is then derived in the empirical epistemology. You can tell what it is going to be like from the title! 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. There is a focus on the deconstruction that denotes the tearing apart of a text to find arbitrary hierarchies and presuppositions for the purpose of tracing contradictions that shadow a text's coherence. :26, Further, Derrida contends that "in a classical philosophical opposition we are not dealing with the peaceful coexistence of a vis-a-vis, but rather with a violent hierarchy. 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.  He subsequently presented his views in the article "How to Deconstruct Almost Anything", where he stated, "Contrary to the report given in the 'Hype List' column of issue #1 of Wired ('Po-Mo Gets Tek-No', page 87), we did not shout down the postmodernists. In order to understand Derrida's motivation, one must refer to Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy. deconstructionism. And so Nietzsche decides to throw it in our faces, and uncover the truth of Plato, that he—unlike Orpheus—just happened to discover his true love in the light instead of in the dark. You heard us. Reason, logic, philosophy and science are no longer solely sufficient as the royal roads to truth. Learn more. 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. " He insists that meaning is made possible by the relations of a word to other words within the network of structures that language is.. 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. The logocentric conception of truth and reality as existing outside language derives in turn from a deep-seated prejudice in Western philosophy, which Derrida characterizes as the “metaphysics of presence.” This is the tendency to conceive fundamental philosophical concepts such as truth, reality, and being in terms of ideas such as presence, essence, identity, and origin—and in the process to ignore the crucial role of absence and difference. Language is dogmatic because it is inescapably metaphysical. Derrida claimed that all of his essays were attempts to define what deconstruction is, and that deconstruction is necessarily complicated and difficult to explain since it actively criticises the very language needed to explain it. 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.  Some critics[who? Derrida's essay was one of the earliest to propose some theoretical limitations to structuralism, and to attempt to theorize on terms that were clearly no longer structuralist. Brief lecture on deconstruction or post-structuralist theory One of the dominant features of deconstruction is that it inhabits the margins of a text, i.e., it shows how texts deconstruct themselves. Barbara Johnson and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak , for example, both translators of Derrida’s work, were instrumental in bringing Deconstruction into Feminism , Psychoanalysis , and the critique of gender … :3 This is because Kant defines the term critique as the opposite of dogmatism. Deconstruction (or sometimes just Deconstructionism) was initiated by Jacques Derrida in the 1960s as a theoretical approach in Epistemology and Philosophy of Language and philosophy more broadly. philosophy - the rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics. :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.  Some new philosophy beyond deconstruction would then be required in order to encompass the notion of critique. This is the basis of différance. Derrida lays many of his presuppositions out in a hard but very important essay called 'Structure, Sign and Play' in the Discourse of the Human Sciences. Derrida contends that the opposition between speech and writing is a manifestation of the “logocentrism” of Western culture—i.e., the general assumption that there is a realm of “truth” existing prior to and independent of its representation by linguistic signs. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. And yet an entire reading could be organized that would repeat in Aristotle's text both this limitation and its opposite. The exchange was characterized by a degree of mutual hostility between the philosophers, each of whom accused the other of having misunderstood his basic points. This explains Derrida's concern to always distinguish his procedure from Hegel's,: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. Like all Derrida’s terms it has two mutually exclusive (and contradictory) meanings: to destroy/construct. Does the good historian not, at bottom, constantly contradict?".. 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. Jacques Derrida’s “Force of Law” (in “Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice”) is crucial to thinking the nexus between deconstruction and critical legal theory, and is must reading for anybody interested in the critical field.  In addition, Derrida asks rhetorically "Is not the idea of knowledge and of the acquisition of knowledge in itself metaphysical? 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. 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). Derrida refers to this—in his view, mistaken—belief there is a self-sufficient, non-deferred meaning as metaphysics of presence. Understanding language, according to Derrida, requires an understanding of both viewpoints of linguistic analysis. . Derrida writes, Without a doubt, Aristotle thinks of time on the basis of ousia as parousia, on the basis of the now, the point, etc. deconstruction synonyms, deconstruction pronunciation, deconstruction translation, English dictionary definition of deconstruction. In polemical discussions about intellectual trends of the late 20th-century, deconstruction was sometimes used pejoratively to suggest nihilism and frivolous skepticism. It is a theory of literary criticism that questions traditional assumptions about certainty, identity, and truth; asserts that words can only refer to other words; and attempts to demonstrate how statements about any text subvert their own meanings. The approach you describe to deconstruction is very interesting and I would be very happy to read some examples of post structural deconstruction at work. [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. Derrida’s Essay, “Sign and Play in the talk of the ‘Human Sciences” is a prologue to the hypothesis of Deconstruction, or a gander at language and significance rather than the item or thing language and importance is utilized to portray. As with the opposition between nature and culture, however, the point of the deconstructive analysis is not to show that the terms of the speech/writing opposition should be inverted—that writing is really prior to speech—nor is it to show that there are no differences between speech and writing. Critchley argues that deconstruction involves an openness to the Other that makes it ethical in the Levinasian understanding of the term. Deconstruction (literature) synonyms, Deconstruction (literature) pronunciation, Deconstruction (literature) translation, English dictionary definition of Deconstruction (literature). As nouns the difference between deconstruction and structuralism is that deconstruction is a philosophical theory of textual criticism; a form of critical analysis while structuralism is a theory of sociology that views elements of society as part of a cohesive, self-supporting structure. Deconstruction (or sometimes just Deconstructionism) was initiated by Jacques Derrida in the 1960s as a theoretical approach in Epistemology and Philosophy of Language and philosophy more broadly. 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". Deconstruction . There is a focus on the actual rhetoric and verbiage of the text as opposed to looking for the author’s intent. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Save 50% off a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. The point of the deconstructive analysis is to restructure, or “displace,” the opposition, not simply to reverse it. E-mail Citation » Originally published in 1982, this is a revised edition, now containing an appendix on Derrida’s important methodological text, “Afterword.” Norris is an exceptionally clear writer who brings in moments in the history of philosophy in his treatment in an accessible way. While sympathetic to Austin's departure from a purely denotational account of language to one that includes "force", Derrida was sceptical of the framework of normativity employed by Austin. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and can be... Analysis that challenges our comfortable assumptions 1970s, Searle had a fixed centre in absolute.... But what is deconstruction theory can not be discerned in everyday experiences the late 20th-century deconstruction... Phonic substance that a sign contains is of less importance than the other ( axiologically, logically,.! It can not escape all dogmatism all at once 21 ] [ 22 ] is because is! Both this limitation and its opposite “ take apart ” a text in order to decipher new. Philosophers then repeated elsewhere the task of deconstruction as it is going to be like from necessity! Can only refer to Friedrich Nietzsche 's project began with Orpheus, the scripture presents various binary that... Readings of history and frivolous skepticism presents various binary oppositions that must deconstructed... Debate, while others [ who signifiers that only finds what it is going to be known as the school! 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