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  • Jacques Derrida was one of the most famous, controversial,

  • but also wise figures in recent French intellectual life.

  • He invented a way of doing philosophy that he called

  • Deconstruction, which fundamentally altered our understanding of many academic fields,

  • especially literary studies.

  • Derrida was born in 1930 in El Biar, a suburb of Algiers, in what was then French colonial Algeria.

  • His family were jews, his father a salesman for a local wine firm.

  • He was initially slow at school and harbored dreams of becoming a professional soccer player.

  • In 1942, under new laws enacted by the collaborationist French Vichy regime,

  • Derrida, like all other Jewish children, was forcibly excluded from his Lycée

  • and spent a lot of his time at home with his mother.

  • He suffered greatly from the anti-semitism of Algeria's majority Muslim population

  • and was deeply marked by the experience of having been in an inferior position

  • at the nexus of three different religions:

  • Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all of which claimed to speak the truth

  • none of which knew how to treat the others with particular respect.

  • In 1949, just turned 19, Derrida traveled to Paris to take up a place at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure.

  • He was a Brilliant student, but in an odd position.

  • Highly privileged in terms of education,

  • but utterly at the margins in Metropolitan France in his status as an Algerian jew.

  • Though Derrida was not an autobiographical writer,

  • It's hard not to read his work as a highly abstract response to his first-hand knowledge of bigotry

  • and exclusion.

  • It was from the late 1960s onwards the Derrida began to develop the ideas that made his name.

  • In time he became a celebrity intellectual around Europe and America.

  • He was hugely glamorous. A good-looking man with great taste in raincoats and haircuts.

  • He had a rich, diverse and complex love life.

  • In 1980 he was arrested on a wholy full drug smuggling charge, but was supported by the French president and

  • politicians from both left and right.

  • He loved playing snooker and devoted most of his afternoons to the game,

  • which he played with exemplary skill.

  • He died in 2004 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 74

  • Derrida wrote 40 books, all of them abstruse and subtle.

  • But his importance for us can be revealed by examining three initially odd sounding terms he often used:

  • Deconstruction, Aporia and Logocentrism.

  • Behind the High-flown vocabulary, lie some crucially important ideas.

  • Deconstruction is the word most commonly associated with Derrida.

  • He used it to describe the way he went about thinking,

  • though when other people started using this term he quite often felt

  • they'd misunderstood what he meant by it.

  • Essencialy, Deconstruction means dismantling our excessive loyalty to any idea

  • and learning to see the aspects of the truth that might lie buried in its opposite.

  • It was in 1967 that Derrida published his first major book: "Of Grammatology".

  • Its overt topic is admittedly rather strange, even tedious.

  • Derrida was convinced that western philosophers since Socrates

  • had systematically privileged speech, which was seen as authentic communication,

  • over writing, which was regarded as a mere transcript of what people might say,

  • a secondhand report lacking the interaction and truthfulness that comes with conversation.

  • In itself this hardly feels like an urgent issue

  • But the drama of Derrida's work came from the bigger idea he developed from this claim.

  • His overarching ambition was to advance a vast troubling proposition.

  • But once we begin to examine it closely, almost all our thinking is riddled with a false,

  • that is unjustified and unhelpful, privileging of one thing over another.

  • Speech is privileged over writing,

  • reason over passion,

  • men, at least for long periods, over women,

  • words over pictures,

  • sight over touch.

  • Derrida score point was that this privileging involves a failure to see the merits and value

  • of the supposedly lesser part of the equation

  • Derrida was not so much making the nihilistic point that everything is worthless.

  • He was stressing that the neglected

  • counterparts in some of our key oppositions are worthy of love and a attention.

  • Over his 40 books, Derrida deconstructed a range of key binary terms.

  • Reason vs passion, masculinity vs femininity, profit vs generosity, high culture vs low culture.

  • His hope was that we could learn to live more ntelligently

  • with some of the conflicts that lay beneath these terms,

  • that we could come to see that both sides were on to something,

  • that both were a bit wrong, that both needed each other, and that the tension between

  • would by necessity always prove irrevocable.

  • It might look as if Derrida was always using Deconstruction to attack tradition

  • and the free market and to promote a left-wing egalitarian agenda,

  • but it was a great deal more subtle than this.

  • For example in his deconstruction of the idea of equality,

  • Derrida proposed that the assertion that equality is always better than inequality,

  • though this might be a modern liberal axiom, is, in fact,

  • unstable and obscure, and he pointed out that some of the best human situations

  • we know are obviously not examples of equality in action.

  • Derrida, a devoted professor and father,

  • wrote beautifully and at length about the relationship between pupils and teachers

  • and children and parents.

  • To deconstruct an idea is to show that it's confused and riddled with logical defects

  • and that we must keep its messiness constantly in mind.

  • Derrida was criticizing our tendency to imagine that behind every problem

  • lies somewhere a good and neat solution.

  • We offer him creatures destined to live our lives without clear answers,

  • and that the craving for them is at the root of our troubles.

  • He wanted to cure us of our love of crude simplicity

  • and to make us more comfortable with a permanently oscillating nature of wisdom.

  • For instance, he argued that we might be rightly confused about the merits of Capitalism and Socialism,

  • or the relationship between love and sex, but that we should never rush to conclusions around these topics

  • There are useful things to be said on both sides of these equations.

  • To conclude that capitalism is either splendid or sinful, or that love and sex are either

  • very closely linked or have nothing much to do with one another

  • is to avoid grappling with a fraud and kaleidoscopic nature of reality.

  • Being confused and uncertain around such concepts

  • Isn't a sign of weakness or stupidity. It is for Derrida the central mark of maturity.

  • Derrida's tactic was to glamorize this condition and to give it a positive ring,

  • which is why he brought back into use a beautiful Greek word:

  • Aporia, meaning impasse or puzzlement.

  • He was proposing Aporia as a state we should feel proud to know and to visit on a regular basis.

  • Confusion and doubt and not embarrassing dead ends in a Derridean world view.

  • They're simply evidence of the adulthood of the mind.

  • One of Derrida's chief targets of Criticism was a way of thinking that he called Logocentrism.

  • By which he understood an over hasty, naive devotion to reason, logic and clear definition,

  • underpinned by a faith in language as the natural and best way to communicate.

  • Derrida, who loved music and art, stressed that many of the most important things we feel

  • can never be neatly expressed in words spoken or written, as a logocentric tends to forget.

  • An instance of logocentrism which particularly interested Derrida was the prestige of the idea of

  • IQ, which measures primarily a person's ability to solve logical puzzles,

  • But which largely ignores many other qualities of mind,

  • for example, telling us very little about a person's capacity for friendship, for being a parent,

  • ror having fun or managing their emotions

  • For Derrida certain people might not be so brilliant at completing geometrical sequences,

  • but that would tell us very little about their skill at making a success of a marriage,

  • a business, a holiday or a party.

  • All of whose importance Derrida understood well.

  • As an esteemed professor who lectured in the world's best universities

  • Derrida, who was also a snooker and football loving Algerian jew,

  • was casting doubts on the entire foundations of the modern intellectual worldview.

  • Like many important thinkers,

  • Derrida can be cherished as a corrective to certain excessive attitudes.

  • In his case, an overzealous devotion to reason and clear-cut answers.

  • Derrida didn't want to remove all hierarchies.

  • he knew it was right that kindness should be privileged over cruelty, wit over dullness, generosity over meanness

  • But he also understood how off we unwittingly dismiss things people and ideas

  • when their opposites bask in what might be an arbitrary status.

  • At its best, Derrida is a voice of modesty and patience

  • asking us to see what might be a value in those ideas

  • we too easily overlook and to get curious about why it might be nice to be always,

  • even if only for a little while, on the other side of any debate.

Jacques Derrida was one of the most famous, controversial,

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PHILOSOPHY: ジャック・デリダ (PHILOSOPHY: Jacques Derrida)

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    Dead_P に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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