JACQUES DERRIDA

Dates: 1930-2004

Nationality: French

Jacques Derrida (July 15, 1930 – October 8, 2004) was a French philosopher born in Algeria, who is known as the founder of deconstruction. His voluminous work had a profound impact upon literary theory and continental philosophy. Derrida’s best known work is Of Grammatology.

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Jacques Derrida’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 December 2010, 00:02 UTC, <en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jacques_Derrida&oldid=402046992>

According to Jacques Derrida, structure — the structure of language, for example — occupies an impossible and ideal position: it at once posits an absolute center that holds everything together and a meta-perspective that also holds everything together. For Derrida, then, structure is defined by a double law in which it is at once bound and unbound — such is the very possibility (or impossibility) of a structure’s existence. Which is to say, a structure can exist only in as much as it undoes itself. For Derrida, this double function is always already at work — and so Poststructuralism is born. This double logic, which Derrida calls “differance,” (a word which in French blurs the line between speech and writing) operates like an electric current; it is the alternating force which drives language, philosophy, and texts in general. This force stems from the relentless play between a positive and negative node, between the positing and undoing of a thing. Hence, just as an electric current only exists as movement, texts come to exist only from their “differance .” Therefore, there is no absolute and stable dictionary that fixes meaning in place. At the origin of meaning, Derrida tells us, is play. Hence, when Derrida reads, he seeks the play within a text, the particular ways that a text posits itself and is thereby already outside itself, playing elsewhere in unexpected fields, with unexpected texts. This is what he means by Deconstruction.

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