Deconstruction

1960s: Days of Rage


Deconstruction is an approach to understanding the relationship between text and meaning. It was originated by the philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930–2004), who defined the term variously throughout his career. In its simplest form it can be regarded as a criticism of Platonism and the idea of true forms, or essences, which take precedence over appearances. Deconstruction instead places the emphasis on appearance, or suggests, at least, that essence is to be found in appearance. Derrida would say that the difference is ‘undecidable’, in that it cannot be discerned in everyday experiences. Deconstruction argues that language, especially in ideal concepts such as truth and justice, is irreducibly complex, unstable, or impossible to determine. Many debates in continental philosophy surrounding ontology, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, hermeneutics, and philosophy of language refer to Derrida’s beliefs. Since the 1980s, these beliefs have inspired a range of theoretical enterprises…

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