Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Just yesterday we had the MPh students defend their dissertations. Interesting stuff – rather heavy – but worth the while of all those present. Here are a few introductions to some of the topics discussed…

Post-modernism is the key word used today almost ad nauseam to describe anything that does not seem to fit into our regular ways of thinking. And standing at the helm of the postmodern cohort among others is Jacques Derrida (1930-2004).

On the first day of the school year in 1942, Derrida was expelled from his lycée by French administrators implementing anti-Semitic quotas set by the Vichy government. So we can say that he experienced in his own life the marginalization and discrimination he went on to strongly criticize. Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) is arguably the most well known philosopher of contemporary times. He is also one of the most prolific. Distancing himself from the various philosophical movements and traditions that preceded him on the French intellectual scene (phenomenology, existentialism, and structuralism), in the mid 1960s he developed a strategy called deconstruction. Deconstruction is not purely negative, but it is primarily concerned with something tantamount to a ‘critique’ of the Western philosophical tradition, although this is generally staged via an analysis of specific texts. To simplify matters, deconstruction seeks to expose, and then to subvert, the various binary oppositions that undergird our dominant ways of thinking. But even more than the re-conception of différance, deconstruction works towards preventing the worst violence. It attempts to render justice. Indeed, deconstruction is relentless in this pursuit since justice is impossible to achieve. Deconstruction has had an enormous influence in many disparate fields, including psychology, literary theory, cultural studies, linguistics, feminism, sociology and anthropology. Derrida's fame nearly reached the status of a media star, with hundreds of people filling auditoriums to hear him speak, with films and television programs devoted to him, with countless books and articles devoted to his thinking.

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