At the heart of the current surge of interest in religion among contemporary Continental philosophers stands Augustine's Confessions. With Derrida's Circumfession constantly in the background, this volume takes up the provocative readings of Augustine by Heidegger, Lyotard, Arendt, and Ricoeur. Derrida himself presides over and comments on essays by major Continental philosophers and internationally recognized Augustine scholars. While studies on and about Augustine as a philosopher abound, none approach his work from such a uniquely postmodern point of view, showing both the continuing relevance of Augustine and the religious resonances within postmodernism.

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During his career Derrida published more than 40 books, together with hundreds of essays and public presentations.

He had a significant influence upon the humanities and social sciences , including philosophy, literature , law , [9] [10] [11] anthropology , [12] historiography , [13] applied linguistics , [14] sociolinguistics , [15] psychoanalysis and political theory. His work retains major academic influence throughout the US [16] continental Europe , South America and all other countries where continental philosophy has been predominant, particularly in debates around ontology , epistemology especially concerning social sciences , ethics , aesthetics , hermeneutics , and the philosophy of language.

In most of the Anglosphere , where analytic philosophy is dominant, Derrida's influence is most presently felt in literary studies due to his longstanding interest in language and his association with prominent literary critics from his time at Yale. He also influenced architecture in the form of deconstructivism , music , [17] art , [18] and art criticism. Particularly in his later writings, Derrida addressed ethical and political themes in his work. Some critics consider Speech and Phenomena to be his most important work.

These writings influenced various activists and political movements. Derrida was the third of five children. In this adolescent period, Derrida found in the works of philosophers and writers such as Rousseau , Nietzsche , and Gide an instrument of revolt against family and society.

Derrida received a grant for studies at Harvard University , and he spent the —57 academic year reading James Joyce 's Ulysses at the Widener Library.

During the Algerian War of Independence of —, Derrida asked to teach soldiers' children in lieu of military service, teaching French and English from to With " Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences ", his contribution to a colloquium on structuralism at Johns Hopkins University , his work began to gain international prominence.

At the same colloquium Derrida would meet Jacques Lacan and Paul de Man , the latter an important interlocutor in the years to come. Derrida appears in the film as himself and also contributed to the script. Derrida traveled widely and held a series of visiting and permanent positions. He was elected as its first president.

In Sylviane Agacinski gave birth to Derrida's third child, Daniel. In Derrida became Professor of the Humanities at the University of California, Irvine , where he taught until shortly before his death in His papers were filed in the university archives.

The university had sued in an attempt to get manuscripts and correspondence from Derrida's widow and children that it believed the philosopher had promised to UC Irvine's collection, although it dropped the suit in Derrida's honorary degree at Cambridge was protested by leading philosophers in the analytic tradition. Philosophers including Quine , Marcus , and Armstrong wrote a letter to the university objecting that "Derrida's work does not meet accepted standards of clarity and rigour," and "Academic status based on what seems to us to be little more than semi-intelligible attacks upon the values of reason, truth, and scholarship is not, we submit, sufficient grounds for the awarding of an honorary degree in a distinguished university".

Derrida was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Derrida was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in , which reduced his speaking and travelling engagements.

At the time of his death, Derrida had agreed to go for the summer to Heidelberg as holder of the Gadamer professorship, [49] whose invitation was expressed by the hermeneutic philosopher himself before his death.

Peter Hommelhoff, Rector at Heidelberg by that time, would summarize Derrida's place as: "Beyond the boundaries of philosophy as an academic discipline he was a leading intellectual figure not only for the humanities but for the cultural perception of a whole age. Derrida referred to himself as a historian. With his detailed readings of works from Plato to Rousseau to Heidegger, Derrida frequently argues that Western philosophy has uncritically allowed metaphorical depth models [ jargon ] to govern its conception of language and consciousness.

He sees these often unacknowledged assumptions as part of a "metaphysics of presence" to which philosophy has bound itself.

This "logocentrism," Derrida argues, creates "marked" or hierarchized binary oppositions that have an effect on everything from our conception of speech's relation to writing to our understanding of racial difference. Deconstruction is an attempt to expose and undermine such "metaphysics.

Derrida approaches texts as constructed around binary oppositions which all speech has to articulate if it intends to make any sense whatsoever. This approach to text is, in a broad sense, influenced by the semiology of Ferdinand de Saussure. Perhaps Derrida's most quoted and famous assertion, [56] which appears in an essay on Rousseau in his book Of Grammatology , [59] is the statement that "there is no out-of-context" il n'y a pas de hors-texte.

In this form, which says exactly the same thing, the formula would doubtless have been less shocking. Derrida began his career examining the limits of phenomenology. Many elements of Derrida's thought were already present in this work. In the interviews collected in Positions , Derrida said: "In this essay the problematic of writing was already in place as such, bound to the irreducible structure of 'deferral' in its relationships to consciousness, presence, science, history and the history of science, the disappearance or delay of the origin, etc.

Derrida first received major attention outside France with his lecture, "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences," delivered at Johns Hopkins University in and subsequently included in Writing and Difference. The conference at which this paper was delivered was concerned with structuralism , then at the peak of its influence in France, but only beginning to gain attention in the United States.

Derrida differed from other participants by his lack of explicit commitment to structuralism, having already been critical of the movement. He praised the accomplishments of structuralism but also maintained reservations about its internal limitations; [68] this has led US academics to label his thought as a form of post-structuralism.

The effect of Derrida's paper was such that by the time the conference proceedings were published in , the title of the collection had become The Structuralist Controversy. The conference was also where he met Paul de Man , who would be a close friend and source of great controversy, as well as where he first met the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan , with whose work Derrida enjoyed a mixed relationship. In the early s, Derrida began speaking and writing publicly, addressing the most topical debates at the time.

One of these was the new and increasingly fashionable movement of structuralism , which was being widely favoured as the successor to the phenomenology approach, the latter having been started by Husserl sixty years earlier.

Derrida's countercurrent take on the issue, at a prominent international conference, was so influential that it reframed the discussion from a celebration of the triumph of structuralism to a "phenomenology vs structuralism debate. Phenomenology, as envisioned by Husserl, is a method of philosophical inquiry that rejects the rationalist bias that has dominated Western thought since Plato in favor of a method of reflective attentiveness that discloses the individual's "lived experience;" for those with a more phenomenological bent, the goal was to understand experience by comprehending and describing its genesis, the process of its emergence from an origin or event.

In that context, in , Derrida asked the question: Must not structure have a genesis, and must not the origin, the point of genesis, be already structured, in order to be the genesis of something?

This original complexity must not be understood as an original positing , but more like a default of origin, which Derrida refers to as iterability, inscription, or textuality. Derrida's method consisted in demonstrating the forms and varieties of this originary complexity, and their multiple consequences in many fields.

He achieved this by conducting thorough, careful, sensitive, and yet transformational readings of philosophical and literary texts, to determine what aspects of those texts run counter to their apparent systematicity structural unity or intended sense authorial genesis.

By demonstrating the aporias and ellipses of thought, Derrida hoped to show the infinitely subtle ways in which this originary complexity, which by definition cannot ever be completely known, works its structuring and destructuring effects. On several occasions, Derrida has acknowledged his debt to Husserl and Heidegger , and stated that without them he would not have said a single word.

This collection of three books published in elaborated Derrida's theoretical framework. Derrida attempts to approach the very heart of the Western intellectual tradition , characterizing this tradition as "a search for a transcendental being that serves as the origin or guarantor of meaning".

The attempt to "ground the meaning relations constitutive of the world in an instance that itself lies outside all relationality" was referred to by Heidegger as logocentrism , and Derrida argues that the philosophical enterprise is essentially logocentric, [89] and that this is a paradigm inherited from Judaism and Hellenism. Starting in , Derrida produced on average more than one book per year. Derrida received increasing attention in the United States after , where he was a regular visiting professor and lecturer at several major American universities.

In the s, during the American culture wars , conservatives started a dispute over Derrida's influence and legacy upon American intellectuals, [52] and claimed that he influenced American literary critics and theorists more than academic philosophers.

It follows the shifting role of Geist spirit through Heidegger's work, noting that, in , "spirit" was one of the philosophical terms that Heidegger set his sights on dismantling. Derrida asks, "What of this meantime? How to Concede, with Reasons? Some have argued that Derrida's work took a political and ethical "turn" in the s. Texts cited as evidence of such a turn include Force of Law , as well as Specters of Marx and Politics of Friendship Some refer to The Gift of Death as evidence that he began more directly applying deconstruction to the relationship between ethics and religion.

However, scholars such as Leonard Lawlor , Robert Magliola , and Nicole Anderson have argued that the "turn" has been exaggerated. Derrida develops an ethicist view respecting to hospitality, exploring the idea that two types of hospitalities exist, conditional and unconditional. Though this contributed to the works of many scholars, Derrida was seriously criticized for this.

Derrida and Deconstruction influenced aesthetics, literary criticism, architecture, film theory , anthropology , sociology , historiography , law, psychoanalysis , theology , feminism , gay and lesbian studies and political theory. Derrida used Bracha L. Derrida continued to produce readings of literature, writing extensively on Maurice Blanchot , Paul Celan , and others.

In he published The Other Heading , in which he discussed the concept of identity as in cultural identity , European identity , and national identity , in the name of which in Europe have been unleashed "the worst violences," "the crimes of xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, religious or nationalist fanaticism.

Engaging with questions surrounding the ontology of nonhuman animals, the ethics of animal slaughter and the difference between humans and other animals, the address has been seen as initiating a late "animal turn" in Derrida's philosophy, although Derrida himself has said that his interest in animals is present in his earliest writings.

Beginning with "The Deaths of Roland Barthes" in , Derrida produced a series of texts on mourning and memory occasioned by the loss of his friends and colleagues, many of them new engagements with their work.

In October , at the theatrical opening of the film Derrida , he said that, in many ways, he felt more and more close to Guy Debord 's work, and that this closeness appears in Derrida's texts. Derrida mentioned, in particular, "everything I say about the media, technology, the spectacle, and the 'criticism of the show', so to speak, and the markets — the becoming-a-spectacle of everything, and the exploitation of the spectacle. Beyond these explicit political interventions, however, Derrida was engaged in rethinking politics and the political itself, within and beyond philosophy.

Derrida insisted that a distinct political undertone had pervaded his texts from the very beginning of his career. Nevertheless, the attempt to understand the political implications of notions of responsibility, reason of state , the other, decision, sovereignty , Europe, friendship, difference, faith, and so on, became much more marked from the early s on. By , theorizing "democracy to come," and thinking the limitations of existing democracies, had become important concerns.

Jean-Luc Nancy and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe were among Derrida's first students in France and went on to become well-known and important philosophers in their own right. Despite their considerable differences of subject, and often also of a method, they continued their close interaction with each other and with Derrida, from the early s.

Derrida's most prominent friendship in intellectual life was with Paul de Man, which began with their meeting at Johns Hopkins University and continued until de Man's death in De Man provided a somewhat different approach to deconstruction, and his readings of literary and philosophical texts were crucial in the training of a generation of readers. The memoir became cause for controversy, because shortly before Derrida published his piece, it had been discovered by the Belgian literary critic Ortwin de Graef that long before his academic career in the US, de Man had written almost two hundred essays in a pro-Nazi newspaper during the German occupation of Belgium , including several that were explicitly antisemitic.

Derrida complicated the notion that it is possible to simply read de Man's later scholarship through the prism of these earlier political essays. Rather, any claims about de Man's work should be understood in relation to the entire body of his scholarship. Critics of Derrida have argued that he minimizes the antisemitic character of de Man's writing. Some critics have found Derrida's treatment of this issue surprising, given that, for example, Derrida also spoke out against antisemitism and, in the s, broke with the Heidegger disciple Jean Beaufret over Beaufret's instances of antisemitism, about which Derrida and, after him, Maurice Blanchot expressed shock.

In an appendix added to the edition of his History of Madness , Foucault disputed Derrida's interpretation of his work, and accused Derrida of practicing "a historically well-determined little pedagogy [ A pedagogy which inversely gives to the voice of the masters that infinite sovereignty that allows it indefinitely to re-say the text.

Many of Derrida's translators are esteemed thinkers in their own right. Derrida often worked in a collaborative arrangement, allowing his prolific output to be translated into English in a timely fashion.

Having started as a student of de Man, Gayatri Spivak took on the translation of Of Grammatology early in her career and has since revised it into a second edition. Alan Bass was responsible for several early translations; Bennington and Peggy Kamuf have continued to produce translations of his work for nearly twenty years.

In recent years, a number of translations have appeared by Michael Naas also a Derrida scholar and Pascale-Anne Brault. Bennington, Brault, Kamuf, Naas, Elizabeth Rottenberg, and David Wills are currently engaged in translating Derrida's previously unpublished seminars, which span from to


Jacques Derrida

Geoffrey Bennington is the Asa G. He is the author of several books on Derrida and translator of many others by him, and he is coeditor of The Seminars of Jacques Derrida series. His works of philosophy and linguistics form the basis of the school of criticism known as deconstruction. This theory states that language is an inadequate method to give an unambiguous definition of a work, as the meaning of text can differ depending on reader, time, and context. He died of pancreatic cancer on October 9, at the age of Jacques Derrida. Geoffrey Bennington , Jacques Derrida.


Derrida reading Circumfession and Interview 'On Religion'

With surprising rapidity, relating something about oneself becomes something like self-justification, as if my actions could also have been mistakes. In short, another way one can confess besides walking into the confessional is by guiltily relating a story about oneself; a story, that is, which makes one look and feel guilty. This extended interview with Jacques Derrida was conducted by John D. The interview gives Derrida the opportunity to speak on a range of subjects from his secret life of prayer, to the Judeo-Christian heritage of deconstruction, to sacrifice, belief, faith, secularization, atheism, finitude, and beyond. But what pervades throughout is a certain feeling of anxiety, reserve, and humility, which to those already familiar with Derrida's work, should be of no surprise. Indeed, it was evident that Derrida knew his time was short. For instance, when discussing a midrash on Abraham and Abraham's relation with his two sons, Isaac and Ismael, and more broadly, the religio-political crisis in the Middle East, he states, "If I had time, I would go in that direction, in the direction of politics"

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