Throughout his readings, Derrida hoped to show deconstruction at work, i.e.
the ways that this originary complexity, which by definition cannot ever be completely known, works its structuring and destructuring effects.
Many debates in continental philosophy surrounding ontology, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, hermeneutics, and philosophy of language refer to Derrida's observations.
In the 1980s, they inspired a range of theoretical entreprises in the humanities in the United States, As Rorty contends, "words have meaning only because of contrast-effects with other words..word can acquire meaning in the way in which philosophers from Aristotle to Bertrand Russell have hoped it might—by being the unmediated expression of something non-linguistic (e.g., an emotion, a sense-datum, a physical object, an idea, a Platonic Form)".
As a consequence meaning is never present, but rather is deferred to other signs.
which is often mistranslated as "there is nothing outside of the text".
The mistranslation is often used to suggest Derrida believes that nothing exists but words.
Michel Foucault, for instance, famously misattributed to Derrida the very different phrase "Il n'y a rien en dehors du text" for this purpose.
For example, the word "house" derives its meaning more as a function of how it differs from "shed", "mansion", "hotel", "building", etc.
(Form of Content, that Louis Hjelmslev distinguished from Form of Expression) than how the word "house" may be tied to a certain image of a traditional house (i.e.
However, like Nietzsche, Derrida is not satisfied merely with such a political interpretation of Plato, because of the particular dilemma modern humans find themselves stuck in.
His Platonic reflections are inseparably part of his critique of modernity, hence the attempt to be something beyond the modern, because of this Nietzschian sense that the modern has lost its way and become mired in nihilism.
Différance is the observation that the meanings of words come from their synchrony with other words within the language and their diachrony between contemporary and historical definitions of a word.
Understanding language according to Derrida required an understanding of both viewpoints of linguistic analysis.
The focus on diachrony has led to accusations against Derrida of engaging in the Etymological fallacy.
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Deconstruction is a name commonly associated with philosopher Jacques Derrida's critical outlook over the relationship between text and meaning.
Derrida's approach consists in conducting readings of texts with an ear to what in those texts runs counter to their structural unity or intended sense.
The purpose is to expose that the object of language and what upon which any text is founded is irreducibly complex, unstable, or impossible.
But the final objective of deconstruction is not to surpass all oppositions, because it is assumed they are structurally necessary to produce sense. The hierarchy of dual oppositions always reestablishes itself.
Deconstruction only points to the necessity of an unending analysis that can make explicit the decisions and arbitrary violence intrinsic to all texts.
Finally, Derrida argues that it is not enough to expose and deconstruct the way oppositions work and then stop there in a nihilistic or cynical position, "thereby preventing any means of intervening in the field effectively".
To be effective, deconstruction needs to create new terms, not to synthesize the concepts in opposition, but to mark their difference and eternal interplay.
This explains why Derrida always proposes new terms in his deconstruction, not as a free play but as a pure necessity of analysis, to better mark the intervals.
Derrida called undecidables, that is, unities of simulacrum, "false" verbal properties (nominal or semantic) that can no longer be included within philosophical (binary) opposition: but which, however, inhabit philosophical oppositions, resisting and organizing it, without ever constituting a third term, without ever leaving room for a solution in the form of Hegelian dialectics (e.g.
différance, archi-writing, pharmakon, supplement, hymen, gram, spacing).
Derrida's original use of the word "deconstruction" was a translation of Destruktion, a concept from the work of Martin Heidegger that Derrida sought to apply to textual reading.
Heidegger's term referred to a process of exploring the categories and concepts that tradition has imposed on a word, and the history behind them.
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 refers to the — in this view, mistaken — belief that there is a self-sufficient, non-deferred meaning as metaphysics of presence.
A concept then must be understood in the context of its opposite, such as being/nothingness, normal/abnormal, speech/writing, etc.
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.