Deconstructing Deconstruction

Powerful Essays
The term “Deconstruction” was first employed in the philosophical sense by Jacques Derrida in his 1967 book Of Grammatology. As such, the concept and movement of Deconstruction was founded solely by Derrida, without much influence from contemporary sources. However, Derrida did draw from previous philosophers such as Nietzsche, Husserl, the linguist Saussure, Heidegger, and the psychologist Sigmund Freud.

Deconstruction began as both an expansion and reaction to Structuralism, a movement that was particularly popular in 1960’s France. Though Derrida was somewhat influenced by structuralist thinkers, (most notable Saussure) Deconstruction can be by no means categorized at structuralist. Derrida did claim that Deconstruction held a certain element of Structuralism, [Derrida 1985] but that element is not definitive in nature; Deconstruction is independent from Structuralism.

Derrida founded the concept of Deconstruction for two reasons.

Firstly, Derrida wanted to apply the Heideggerian concept of Destruktion “to his own ends.” [Derrida 1985] It has been noted that Deconstruction is somewhat “less negative” [Allison 1973] than Destruktion but it still revolves around a certain idea of reversal (which is somewhat similar to “reversal” in the Nietzschean sense) [Derrida 1985] that entails the unfolding of structure.

Secondly, Deconstruction was created as a reaction to Structuralism, because Derrida saw the Structuralist notion of structure to be flawed. Structuralism sought to create an external system by which other systems (such as language) could be evaluated. However, Derrida pointed out that such a structure must have, at its “center,” the concept at hand, while simultaneously revolving around the idea that a ...

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...It is only through preference, then that Ozymandias can be perceived as weak. Indeed, if time is removed from the picture altogether, then Ozymandias would be perceived as both powerful and weak, paradoxically. It is only by focusing on the present and future that Shelley is able to portray Ozymandias as weak and not powerful as he would appear if the text focused on the past.

Works Cited

David B. Allison;

Introduction to Speech and Phenomena, by Derrida, 1973, Northwestern University.

Jacques Derrida;

Letter to A Japanese Friend, 1985.

Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences, 1966.

Of Grammatology, 19

Jack Reynolds

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy Article on Derrida, 2002.
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