Study Guide

Jacques Derrida - Deconstruction Workers

Deconstruction Workers

Deconstruction isn't child's play—although Derrida would probably argue that children deconstruct before they even know it, so maybe there should be a charter for the littl'uns. Anyway, this group doesn't meet; they just agree to constantly deconstruct, letting the binary oppositions rip and seeing the contradictions and complexities in everything from a Shakespeare play to a bowl of Ramen noodles with a flavor packet. So there are no forms to fill out and no membership fees. You just have to commit to a life of mind-twisting over analysis of anything that you think or see. Recruiting new members is always a plus.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Muse

Derrida carries around a well-worn, dog-eared copy of Twilight of the Idols. Nietzsche really breaks down the whole myth of a "True World of Reality with the World of Appearance"—a favorite binary of Derrida's.

Martin Heidegger

Muse

For Derrida, reading Heidegger is like watching The World Cup. He considers Heidegger a master at busting up Platonism (also called metaphysics). In fact, he thinks Platonism plagues Western thought like a bad case of head lice. Heidegger paved the way, but Derrida had to one up him (the whole student surpasses the teacher thing), and he signaled his valiant progress by coining all sorts of great words like trace, différance, archi-écriture, and supplement, to replace (and sometimes poke fun at) Heidegger's terminology.

Plato

Provocateur

Ah, Plato. The man deconstructionists love to hate. Derrida argues that Plato made a lot of hard and fast distinctions (like philosophy vs. mythology), suggesting that absolutes actually have a place in this crazy mixed up world—but then he destabilized them in the very language he used. The takeaway? Derrida has some major beef with Plato's hierarchy of speech over writing; something he likes to call "logocentrism."

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