Jacques Derrida: "Writing and Difference"

Essay by dirrj October 2007

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Introduction:Derrida is a contemporary French philosopher, and he is the 'founder and head' of school of deconstruction. "Derrida can safely be called the leading philosopher in France today, and together with Jacques Lacan and Michael Foucault, the most important intellectual presence," according to Geoffrey Hartman, Karl Young Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Yale University. Writing and Difference was first published in 1967, and it contains collection of essays written by this author from 1959 to 1966. This book has molded the contemporary French thought and hailed as the landmark as for the issues it deals with. Deconstructionism is the strategy of analysis, most importantly applied to literature, philosophy and linguistics. The book was translated in English and published in USA in the year 1970.

Sections of the book and what they contain:This is no ordinary writing. The common man would not be able to grasp the import of the contents of this book.

Even for the intellectuals, it is a tough reading exercise. The first half of the book contains the famed essay on Descartes and Foucault. It focuses on the development of Derrida's method of deconstruction. Derrida carefully elucidates the traditional nature of some nontraditional currents of modern thought. The second half contains Derrida's intelligent analysis showing how and why metaphysical thinking must exclude writing from its conception of language. These essays are on Artaud, Freud,Hegel, Bataille and Leve-Straus-sort of Derrida's rejoinder to their arguments. This is the untranslatable formulation of a metaphysical 'concept' which does not exclude writing.

We find Derrida at work on his systematic deconstruction of Western metaphysics. The book's first half, which includes the celebrated essay on Descartes and Foucault, shows the development of Derrida's method of deconstruction. In these essays, Derrida demonstrates the traditional nature of some purportedly nontraditional currents of modern...