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Deconstructing Deconstructionism Thoughts of Jacques Derrida.

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1 Deconstructing Deconstructionism Thoughts of Jacques Derrida

2 Question: What do you get when you cross Jacques Derrida with a member of the Mafia? Question: What do you get when you cross Jacques Derrida with a member of the Mafia? Answer: Someone making you an offer you can't understand, or refuse! Answer: Someone making you an offer you can't understand, or refuse! Pimm 1991 Pimm 1991

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4 Who is Jacques Derrida? Who is Jacques Derrida? French Philosopher of the 20 th Century French Philosopher of the 20 th Century Born July 15, 1930, El Biar, Algeria Born July 15, 1930, El Biar, Algeria Died October 8, 2004, Paris, France Died October 8, 2004, Paris, France

5 What is Deconstruction? A word coined by Derrida A word coined by Derrida Refers to critical examination of fundamentals of distinctions or oppositions in Western Philosophy Refers to critical examination of fundamentals of distinctions or oppositions in Western Philosophy Oppositions characteristically “binary” Oppositions characteristically “binary” One member of the pair is primary or fundamental One member of the pair is primary or fundamental Other member is secondary or derivative Other member is secondary or derivative

6 What is Truth? It depends on where you seek it It depends on where you seek it

7 According to Jacques…. “Truth is supposed to be plain, totally transparent, common, and obvious to everyone – a clear-cut and unarguable claim to knowledge made with no possibility of opposition or exemption to the moral rule of law.” “Truth is supposed to be plain, totally transparent, common, and obvious to everyone – a clear-cut and unarguable claim to knowledge made with no possibility of opposition or exemption to the moral rule of law.”

8 Derrida addresses the idea of opposites and proposes that neither member of a pair is superior to the other, since each depends on the other for its validity. Derrida addresses the idea of opposites and proposes that neither member of a pair is superior to the other, since each depends on the other for its validity.

9 Which is more authentic – speech or writing? Which is more authentic – speech or writing? Ideas in speech are “immediate” and “present” Ideas in speech are “immediate” and “present” Ideas in writing are “remote” and “absent” Ideas in writing are “remote” and “absent”

10 But, speech is language only when it shares characteristics of writing, such as the possibility of being misunderstood. But, speech is language only when it shares characteristics of writing, such as the possibility of being misunderstood. This must be true since Derrida wrote about it. This must be true since Derrida wrote about it.

11 What is Differance? Another Derridean word Another Derridean word Means a “difference” Means a “difference” Distinct, discernable Distinct, discernable Means “act of deferring” Means “act of deferring” Present while being omitted Present while being omitted

12 But then again, since words depend on the meaning of other words for their meaning, the meaning of a word is never really present – it is deferred But then again, since words depend on the meaning of other words for their meaning, the meaning of a word is never really present – it is deferred

13 What was that he said about truth? What was that he said about truth? “Truth is supposed to be plain, totally transparent, common, and obvious to everyone..” “Truth is supposed to be plain, totally transparent, common, and obvious to everyone..”

14 When I choose a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less…” When I choose a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less…” Humpty Dumpty to Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass Humpty Dumpty to Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass

15 Now that you are thoroughly confused….. Your mission is to investigate the impact of Derrida on late Twentieth Century thought as well as the impact of the Twentieth Century on Derrida’s thought. Your mission is to investigate the impact of Derrida on late Twentieth Century thought as well as the impact of the Twentieth Century on Derrida’s thought.

16 Is Derrida a product of his times or an architect of his times? Is Derrida a product of his times or an architect of his times? Are his ideas valid or is he enjoying an inside joke? Are his ideas valid or is he enjoying an inside joke? Can these ideas be applied to a high school classroom? Can these ideas be applied to a high school classroom?

17 Design a webquest for high school freshmen in which they seek the path to truth, as defined by Jacques Derrida Design a webquest for high school freshmen in which they seek the path to truth, as defined by Jacques Derrida Include biographical information and links to his works, and those of the philosophers who most influenced him Include biographical information and links to his works, and those of the philosophers who most influenced him


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