Jacques Derrida and His Deconstruction

Deconstruction has been one of the most intriguing concepts in philosophy, with its definite meaning still being pursued at least in terms of a philosophical inquiry. Only in the past decade or so has the term been widely used as a part of the wider American language. And when the term deconstruction enters the inquisitive mind, Jacques Derrida—the man responsible for the popularity of the term itself—never fails to enter the inquiry.

The philosophy of Derrida has strongly influenced the thoughts of many inasmuch as his philosophy has also etched its own distinctive mark in the broad field of philosophy and the intellectual life (Owens, 1994, p.

284). Largely taken from his critical approach towards philosophizing that identifies him apart from the rest of the philosophers, deconstruction has earned him a reputable status. Far more importantly, Derrida’s deconstruction is integrally connected to the bigger domain of postmodernism.

His methodology attacks knowledge by provoking and questioning the ways in which human beings are able to know and act in order to elucidate and comprehend the self (Grene, 1977, p.

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682). Even the most obvious things that appear before human cognition is placed under the helm of deconstruction by questioning the values of self-evidence as well as the dichotomies that are assumed to be logical and non-judgmental in character in which we live by as members of the larger society.

This paper aims at analyzing and critiquing the philosophy of Jacques Derrida, especially his deconstructionism, after laying down the crucial and central points in his philosophy.

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By providing a brief sketch of what deconstruction is in the contexts of philosophy and of the society, one can arrive at a fuller comprehension of the implications of Derrida’s philosophical exploits.


Isolating Derrida from deconstruction—or even the other way around—is simply futile as one cannot go without the other.

Jacques Derrida is almost perfectly synonymous with deconstructionism. It is imperative to note that at the heart of Derrida’s deconstruction is the attempt to undermine the oppositional inclinations that have transpired within the philosophical tradition of the West. The existing oppositional tendencies that prevailed at the height of dualism are in fact the recipient of the criticisms thrown by deconstruction (Ellis, 1988, p. 260).

Perhaps the most notable precept in Derrida’s deconstruction is that, while it attacks the grand narratives that seek to explain the world and the knowledge of man, it nevertheless employs these narratives as the basic foundation of the main attempt to “deconstruct” these same narratives. Moreover, deconstruction also attempts at revealing the subtle or underlying dichotomies that reinforce and define the grand narratives and at distorting these dichotomies instead of promoting a replacement narrative for the status quo.

By taking up a prolonged and, oftentimes, lengthy examination of the specific texts, deconstruction functions as methodology in which its commitment belongs to the meticulous analyses of both the literal and the inner meaning of the literal interpretation of the text. The analysis spans the innermost corners of the text in order to arrive at a substantial account of the meaning of the text and of the inner problems that lead in the direction of implicit alternative meanings.

Hence, what is primarily sought after is the establishment of a methodology that scrutinizes the corners of these apparent contradictory imperatives such as the perceived “sameness” and “differences”. This is perhaps one of the most intriguing sections of deconstruction. As it suggests a deeper probe of the text by looking at the seemingly neglected corners of the text, it also unveils the sense in which one can inevitably arrive at an alternate meaning of what the text—or perhaps the author of the text—primarily suggests (Nealon, 1992, p.

1267). Yet it also points out a rather trivial aspect of Derrida’s methodology. For one, it is quite difficult to specifically ascertain the role of deconstruction with respect to the text. By proposing the idea that a faithful elucidation of the text is one that actually goes beyond the text, the concept of ‘invention’ becomes an integral and irremovable element of any deconstructive reading of any given text.

Moreover, Derrida’s deconstruction asserts the idea that, inevitably, there are sections of equivocation and points of being ‘undecided’ that more or less betrays any coherent steady gist that the author of the text actually seek to force unto his or her own text. Part of the reason why Derrida’s methodology is strongly dependent on the text under analysis is because the very procedure of writing at all times unveils that which has been held back, envelops that which has been revealed, and more broadly breaks the actual oppositions that are considered to uphold it.

It is also the same reason why Derrida’s important terms are ever changing since equivocation depends on the target of the methodology which varies not only from context to context but also from the individual who is deconstructing. One example to this idea can be observed from the fact that deconstruction proceeds not from the attempt of comparing a text with another text or with an external standard in order to highlight what the text has failed to notice.

Rather, Derrida’s methodology attempts to pinpoint the neglected sections of the text through the use of the text itself. Nevertheless, this should not be taken to mean as a direct way of telling the reader that the author ought to have created the text in a much better way. Quite on the contrary, deconstruction attempts to reveal the necessary incompleteness or deficiency of the text or the parts omitted or lacking in the text in order to show that these are the ways things are.


If someone claims that Derrida’s deconstruction is a radical approach in critiquing texts—texts that are not confined to the written books alone—then there is something about his methodology that strikes the conservative mind. It appears that, at least for Derrida, gone are the days of contextualizing a work with another work in order to arrive at a definitive understanding or at least a partial comprehension of the insufficiencies of a text. The primary concern of the reader, hence, is already the text itself in locating and isolating these necessary insufficiencies.

It appears that deconstruction grants every text the capability of standing as its own, being the sole measure for its own critiquing. And since anything can be a text, it gives us the idea that everything else is a measure for their respective meanings. The world, or the totality of the world, becomes an independent framework in revealing unto itself its necessary incompleteness. In order to perform a deconstruction of a text, two essential elements are required; the reader and the text. What, then, becomes of the author of the text?

Since everything can be a text, there is this idea that the author is likewise a text—which leads us into the presumption that, while every text can independently be a measure of its own in deconstruction, a text can also create another text at least in the sense of human authors writing a literary piece of work (Felperin, 1985, p. 254). If the author is a text, the reader can also be a text which leads one to the seemingly radical idea that both the reader and author can be ‘deconstructed’ in order to reveal their necessary incompleteness.

For instance, in the field of education, literary works such as scholarly books abound and that there numbers alone indicate the corresponding vast number of authors and the readers of the texts. Books in the subject of philosophy are spread across libraries and scholarly archives, read for the most part by members of the academe. The same holds true for the rest of the disciplines where voluminous articles have already been written, published, read and studied by people from the same field.

This supports the idea that deconstruction can indeed take place in a larger scope or perhaps even throughout the rest of the world. The point is that all of these amount to the assumption that Derrida and his methodology of deconstruction relatively applies to almost every possible instance. This leads us to the more general view that the presence of deconstruction has resulted to consequences which can be categorized at least into two main sorts: everything is a text and, correspondingly, everything can be deconstructed to show the necessary incompleteness of the text which is the way it really is.


Jacques Derrida and his methodology of deconstruction are just two of the renowned and significant ‘elements’ of the larger field of philosophy. Inasmuch as Derrida has been able to provide us with a different approach in analyzing texts in terms of their incompleteness and the hidden alternative meanings that they convey, he has also been able to establish a new frontier for philosophy. Despite the fact that philosophy has been one of the ancient disciplines as far as world history is concerned, Derrida provides us with a new way of analyzing things and discerning their meanings.


  1. Ellis, J. M. (1988). What Does Deconstruction Contribute to Theory of Criticism? New Literary History, 19(2), 260. Felperin, H. (1985).
  2. The Anxiety of Deconstruction. Yale French Studies, 69, 254. Grene, M. (1977).
  3. On the Use and Abuse of Deconstruction. The Journal of Philosophy, 74(11), 682. Nealon, J. T. (1992).
  4. The Discipline of Deconstruction. PMLA, 107(5), 1267. Owens, C. (1994). Understanding and Approving of Derrida. PMLA, 109(2), 284.
Updated: Feb 23, 2021
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Jacques Derrida and His Deconstruction. (2017, Apr 12). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/jacques-derrida-and-his-deconstruction-essay

Jacques Derrida and His Deconstruction essay
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