PHILOSOPHY: Jacques Derrida

PHILOSOPHY: Jacques Derrida

Jacques Derrida was one of the most famous, controversial, but also wise figures in recent French intellectual life. He invented a way of doing philosophy that he called Deconstruction, which fundamentally altered our understanding of many academic fields, especially literary studies. Derrida was born in 1930 in El Biar, a suburb of Algiers, in what was then French colonial Algeria. His family were jews, his father a salesman for a local wine firm. He was initially slow at school and harbored dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. In 1942, under new laws enacted by the collaborationist French Vichy regime, Derrida, like all other Jewish children, was forcibly excluded from his Lycée and spent a lot of his time at home with his mother. He suffered greatly from the anti-semitism of Algeria’s majority Muslim population and was deeply marked by the experience of having been in an inferior position at the nexus of three different religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all of which claimed to speak the truth none of which knew how to treat the others with particular respect. In 1949, just turned 19, Derrida traveled to Paris to take up a place at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure. He was a Brilliant student, but in an odd position. Highly privileged in terms of education, but utterly at the margins in Metropolitan France in his status as an Algerian jew. Though Derrida was not an autobiographical writer, It’s hard not to read his work as a highly abstract response to his first-hand knowledge of bigotry and exclusion. It was from the late 1960s onwards the Derrida began to develop the ideas that made his name. In time he became a celebrity intellectual around Europe and America. He was hugely glamorous. A good-looking man with great taste in raincoats and haircuts. He had a rich, diverse and complex love life. In 1980 he was arrested on a wholy full drug smuggling charge, but was supported by the French president and politicians from both left and right. He loved playing snooker and devoted most of his afternoons to the game, which he played with exemplary skill. He died in 2004 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 74 Derrida wrote 40 books, all of them abstruse and subtle. But his importance for us can be revealed by examining three initially odd sounding terms he often used: Deconstruction, Aporia and Logocentrism. Behind the High-flown vocabulary, lie some crucially important ideas. Deconstruction is the word most commonly associated with Derrida. He used it to describe the way he went about thinking, though when other people started using this term he quite often felt they’d misunderstood what he meant by it. Essencialy, Deconstruction means dismantling our excessive loyalty to any idea and learning to see the aspects of the truth that might lie buried in its opposite. It was in 1967 that Derrida published his first major book: “Of Grammatology”. Its overt topic is admittedly rather strange, even tedious. Derrida was convinced that western philosophers since Socrates had systematically privileged speech, which was seen as authentic communication, over writing, which was regarded as a mere transcript of what people might say, a secondhand report lacking the interaction and truthfulness that comes with conversation. In itself this hardly feels like an urgent issue But the drama of Derrida’s work came from the bigger idea he developed from this claim. His overarching ambition was to advance a vast troubling proposition. But once we begin to examine it closely, almost all our thinking is riddled with a false, that is unjustified and unhelpful, privileging of one thing over another. Speech is privileged over writing, reason over passion, men, at least for long periods, over women, words over pictures, sight over touch. Derrida score point was that this privileging involves a failure to see the merits and value of the supposedly lesser part of the equation Derrida was not so much making the nihilistic point that everything is worthless. He was stressing that the neglected counterparts in some of our key oppositions are worthy of love and a attention. Over his 40 books, Derrida deconstructed a range of key binary terms. Reason vs passion, masculinity vs femininity, profit vs generosity, high culture vs low culture. His hope was that we could learn to live more ntelligently with some of the conflicts that lay beneath these terms, that we could come to see that both sides were on to something, that both were a bit wrong, that both needed each other, and that the tension between would by necessity always prove irrevocable. It might look as if Derrida was always using Deconstruction to attack tradition and the free market and to promote a left-wing egalitarian agenda, but it was a great deal more subtle than this. For example in his deconstruction of the idea of equality, Derrida proposed that the assertion that equality is always better than inequality, though this might be a modern liberal axiom, is, in fact, unstable and obscure, and he pointed out that some of the best human situations we know are obviously not examples of equality in action. Derrida, a devoted professor and father, wrote beautifully and at length about the relationship between pupils and teachers and children and parents. To deconstruct an idea is to show that it’s confused and riddled with logical defects and that we must keep its messiness constantly in mind. Derrida was criticizing our tendency to imagine that behind every problem lies somewhere a good and neat solution. We offer him creatures destined to live our lives without clear answers, and that the craving for them is at the root of our troubles. He wanted to cure us of our love of crude simplicity and to make us more comfortable with a permanently oscillating nature of wisdom. For instance, he argued that we might be rightly confused about the merits of Capitalism and Socialism, or the relationship between love and sex, but that we should never rush to conclusions around these topics There are useful things to be said on both sides of these equations. To conclude that capitalism is either splendid or sinful, or that love and sex are either very closely linked or have nothing much to do with one another is to avoid grappling with a fraud and kaleidoscopic nature of reality. Being confused and uncertain around such concepts Isn’t a sign of weakness or stupidity. It is for Derrida the central mark of maturity. Derrida’s tactic was to glamorize this condition and to give it a positive ring, which is why he brought back into use a beautiful Greek word: Aporia, meaning impasse or puzzlement. He was proposing Aporia as a state we should feel proud to know and to visit on a regular basis. Confusion and doubt and not embarrassing dead ends in a Derridean world view. They’re simply evidence of the adulthood of the mind. One of Derrida’s chief targets of Criticism was a way of thinking that he called Logocentrism. By which he understood an over hasty, naive devotion to reason, logic and clear definition, underpinned by a faith in language as the natural and best way to communicate. Derrida, who loved music and art, stressed that many of the most important things we feel can never be neatly expressed in words spoken or written, as a logocentric tends to forget. An instance of logocentrism which particularly interested Derrida was the prestige of the idea of IQ, which measures primarily a person’s ability to solve logical puzzles, But which largely ignores many other qualities of mind, for example, telling us very little about a person’s capacity for friendship, for being a parent, ror having fun or managing their emotions For Derrida certain people might not be so brilliant at completing geometrical sequences, but that would tell us very little about their skill at making a success of a marriage, a business, a holiday or a party. All of whose importance Derrida understood well. As an esteemed professor who lectured in the world’s best universities Derrida, who was also a snooker and football loving Algerian jew, was casting doubts on the entire foundations of the modern intellectual worldview. Like many important thinkers, Derrida can be cherished as a corrective to certain excessive attitudes. In his case, an overzealous devotion to reason and clear-cut answers. Derrida didn’t want to remove all hierarchies. he knew it was right that kindness should be privileged over cruelty, wit over dullness, generosity over meanness But he also understood how off we unwittingly dismiss things people and ideas when their opposites bask in what might be an arbitrary status. At its best, Derrida is a voice of modesty and patience asking us to see what might be a value in those ideas we too easily overlook and to get curious about why it might be nice to be always, even if only for a little while, on the other side of any debate.

Comments (100)

  1. i can't thank you enough for the video .
    kudos to the entire team of 'The School of Life' for creating such an excellent source for sharing knowledge 🙂

  2. I wouldn't call what Derrida did "Philosophy" but rather "Anti-philosophy". And I don't even mean that in a negative way. One has to accept the fundamental limits of reason in trying to create a qualia of humanity. Humanity itself is so fundamentally diffuse that its necessarily scorns reason in order to exist in its qualitative totality.

    The problem comes from trying to force reason from the domain over which it rightly resides. Because aporia unleashed is chaos in the most destructive manner, and leaves its victims open to the most corrupted and brutalizing forms of reason, either through cynical revolutionary machinations or reactionary oppression.

  3. Looks like David Gower's dad… or perhaps David Gower looks like that now?!

  4. And now the deconstruction and endless criticism of society has become pathologised in universities. If a person is depressed would you tell them what they need is more negative rumination? Society in my opinion is the same.

  5. Wise ?
    Listen to Camille Paglia for her opinion on this so called wise man !

  6. Came up with a theory that deconstructs its self
    As much point as having a bucket with no bottom

  7. Provide Bahasa Indonesia subtitle, please

  8. I haven't read On Grammatology but the Derrida's argument that the notion of equality in western philosophy should be challenged because we don't need this 'equality' in, for example, the relationship between students and teachers or parents and children seems like a really flawed argument. The western notion of 'equality' never argued that there should be absolute equality in a way that all social hierarchies (including those in classrooms and families as pointed out in the video) should be destroyed; it simply advocated for more important issues like racial equality. Derrida's mistake is putting words into the westerners who introduced 'equality', by assuming that they advocated for the absolute end of any sort of social hierarchy.

    This is probably the case too for Derrida's stance on the capitalism vs. communism dichotomy. At least in the video, it is assumed that they do not share any characteristics or common goals, and therefore never 'work together'. Both are obviously polar opposites but claiming that they have not advocated for one or two similar ideas is simply false.

  9. Sure, He wanted to cure us, poor creatures, from our need to distinguish truth from lies, good from evil, reality from non-reality. What a truly superior man…What a pity that the "farmakon", in the end, is a poison for the mind…Deconstruction is the art of dismantling concepts with words and to put real problems into question simply because our language is sometimes not adequate to express it. This is the true core of political correctness, as the idea that by confusing the speaker about the way he frames his sentence then the thing he is saying vanishes with it. Well, guess what? it doesn't, because reality is not a linguistic construction. The only think you get is an angry speaker. Deconstruction only stirs up violence, and what it really destroys is the capacity for us to talk honestly to each other. But thank you for curing us, Jakie, except that we never felt we need it.

  10. Well, he was confused!

  11. beautifull made

  12. ''If you love the universe, then the universe will ultimately love you'' – Mohaimin Nadeem 2015

  13. I really appreciate this video. Always had problems comprehending what his objective was.

  14. I'm in love with Jacques Derrida .. Read a page and I know that I need to .. Take apart my babys heart .. I'm in love


  16. Oh my God he was born in El Biar, Algiers, Algeria! My father has lived there for 50 years, it's a beautiful place! Crazy! So, then, did he know Camus,?I wonder…

  17. The man was a certified crackpot who did emince damage to Western Civilization. His theories on deconstruction poisoned the minds of a whole generation. A very rotten man.

  18. Post modernists……rationalizing the life of societal misfits and their failures as contributors. Most of these people were sad sacks who wrote books about themselves in an attempt to rationalize their inability to compete with their peers by questioning the norms and rules of greater society. There is nothing useful to the human effort except in terms of knowing how these types think so as to expect this nonsense among every society. Rain will get you wet but fire will burn you but you shouldn’t show privilege in that fact because there is some good in your getting wet or burned. Deconstruct that… There is also a lack of modern vetting of the background of these people who may have had some immense mental and emotional issues and before labeling them as “truth tellers” we should be careful that you aren’t following a full blown nutjob. I notice that most of them have no background in the hard sciences which is extremely troubling in terms of the validity of their arguments. Of course, everyone can believe what they want but caution is always wise when you consider the source and it seems rather fragile and troubled. His idea of Aporia to me sounds like another word for “weak” or “lazy”. But it is probably more “subtle”, huh??

  19. Korean subtitles please~

  20. The Gods go to war with each other. Are there eternal Gods? Truth might be one of them? Or are their simply periods in which one God has won the battle to a never ending war. One thing is for sure, the God that serves life- that’s the one I will serve, and I will have to question whether that God continues to do so as I walk through different levels of hell. This far, I have found that all of them serve life, when I pray to them at the right time, when is the right time? As long as I stay alive! –
    Interpret that, and you will know what Derrida means

  21. funny deconstruction was not applied to weird loyalty to the ideas of marx when the foundational surplus labour equation is wrong dialectical thinking an out of date 19th century dualism, his excessive loyalty to these extremely stupid ideas of Karl plagerist Marx makes one think he is rather stupid

  22. sometimes i wake up angry that derrida died a peaceful death..

  23. I watched this because Derrida is a name that keeps coming up. The video seemed to be a good primer, since I know next to nothing about the guy. Then I googled him, and found this (admittedly on Wikipedia, but other entries seem to support the truth of what follows). See what you think.

    "In 1992 some academics at Cambridge University, mostly not from the philosophy faculty, proposed that Derrida be awarded an honorary doctorate. This was opposed by, among others, the university's Professor of Philosophy David Mellor. Eighteen other philosophers from US, Austrian, Australian, French, Polish, Italian, German, Dutch, Swiss, Spanish, and UK institutions, including Barry Smith, Willard Van Orman Quine, David Armstrong, Ruth Barcan Marcus, and René Thom, then sent a letter to Cambridge claiming that Derrida's work "does not meet accepted standards of clarity and rigour" and describing Derrida's philosophy as being composed of "tricks and gimmicks similar to those of the Dadaists." The letter concluded that:

    … where coherent assertions are being made at all, these are either false or trivial. Academic status based on what seems to us to be little more than semi-intelligible attacks upon the values of reason, truth, and scholarship is not, we submit, sufficient grounds for the awarding of an honorary degree in a distinguished university.

    In the end the protesters were outnumbered—336 votes to 204—when Cambridge put the motion to a vote; though almost all of those who proposed Derrida and who voted in favour were not from the philosophy faculty."

    What do people think? Seems pretty damning on the face of it.

  24. i take correct grammar to avoid misunderstanding,,would derrida mind if his body got deconstruction?

  25. This is actually video of the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

  26. Ah great, another School of Life video with having learned fuck all.

  27. Weird how you used that picture of Ali La Pointe from film

  28. Jacques Derrida, arsehole extraordinaire.

  29. 1:10 What are you going on about? This is an outright lie!

  30. So is truth absolute or subjective ? Or both ? Or neither? Or both and neither ? Or am I just overthinking?

  31. This video makes it seem as though he wrote entire books about self-evident things. Like he enjoyed the notoriety of pedantry.

  32. I wasn't aware there were anti-Semitic muslims. This fact alone would implode the narratives of today's postmodernists.

  33. "to deconstruct an idea is to show that it's confused, and that it is riddled with logical defects." thanks. now I have to make a parody this. yay. more work. no rest. fuck off. -__-

  34. Hi ! Could someone pls help me out by telling me either the tittle or the artist of the painting at 3:38 ? Thx.

  35. So his grand idea was that people should see both sides and think more objectively? Is there anything a little more profound?

  36. 2:16 -There is no "and" in pronouncing two thousand four.

  37. Nothing else matters about Derrida except that this degenerate is dead

  38. Just to play the devils advocate here,, what’s it all about Derrida?

  39. Derrida is a dork. We must make decisions. We must act. Asking us to be frozen in analyses paralyses is a recipe for disaster. We must evaluate. The Ancient Greek concept of LOGOS lies at the heart of Western Civilisation and science, that nature and mind and discourse has a structure we can seek and find and count on and therefore act with confidence. LOGOS entered Christianity: "In the beginning was the LOGOS snd the LOGOS was with God and the LOGOS was God." John 1:1

  40. This nigga has a british accent, but called football “soccer”…. suspicions…. very suspicious


  42. speech is priviliged over writing? On what basis?

  43. I'm confused, Arabs are Semites too?

  44. That explains A LOT. What a destructive folly. I’m truly, truly surprised such concepts survive and thrive.

  45. What if I deconstruct deconstructism?

  46. can't help but find similarities between derrida's original concepts + the DBT (dialectical behavioural therapy) skill of "walking the middle path", i.e. accepting the nuances and separate valid points in two opposing ideas. i know that – very generally speaking – we place things into polarised, neatly-defined categories to make things easier to grasp, but it still feels bizarre that we have to teach ourselves to acknowledge nuances and train our eyes to spot the 'grey' in what appears to us as black-and-white scenarios. on the surface, it sounds so simple and logical, yet there's such difficulty in mastering it!

  47. Oww, an educated jew. Like Carl Marx himself…

  48. Derrida is dead; a pseudo-intellectual with a chip on his shoulder. Misusing worlds to create a silly self-pitying philosophy, if one can call it that. The man who tore up western university systems and societies over a false privilege concept, wow, and idiots believed him profound! Hmmmmm….

  49. This pretentious tome is a piece of junk.

  50. To claim that Deridda suffered persecution because of his Jewish background in majority Muslim Algeria is a gross miscarriage of judgement because Algeria was harshly oppressed and colonized by France and initially to claim that derrida was algerian is even a bigger one

  51. Confusion is the sign of an adult mind. Nothing can be known. Reason cannot be trusted. I can see why he is so popular with the liberal left. It makes teaching very easy if confused students, who know nothing and who cannot trust their reason is a desirable outcome

  52. "Wise" is debatable, smart, clever, insightful yes but Wise is a bit too charitable in my view..

  53. The reason i watched this video is justification of his philosophy

  54. Is it only me or anyone else thinks that Derrida and Camus have way too much in common?

  55. A scattered brain is a sign of maturity – for every mental patient.

  56. Another communist false Jew indoctrinating the public

  57. A poor interpretation of modern intellectual thought has served as a hammer for current left.

  58. He sounds like a moron

  59. Derrida sounds to me like the original "Steelman"!

  60. Didn’t this guy like to throw on a dress and blow 4 dudes at a clip?

  61. Postmodernism is the modern sophistry

  62. Derrida argues we can't know things for certain, while claiming this as a certain truth lol

  63. Derrida do you know how the bin emplies relate to life.

  64. Interesting… I think that the limitations of a language is something that limits our thought. How do you consider an idea, a concept, that you can't put into words in your mind. In a way, the relationship between thought and speech is like that of speech to writing, one is a poor reflection of the other, but it's all we have. We must not do away with it but improve it. Unfortunately, this post modern world has tried to simplify speech/writing and in the process, simplified thought so advanced concepts can no longer be considered.
    Also, look at various cultures around the world, the state of their advancement depends on their language, the cultures that I know that never developed the wheel also never developed writing? but take people from those cultures to an advanced country like Germany or Britain and if they integrate, succeeding generations do as well and others. Could it be that it was the limitations in thought due to limitations in language is what held them back?

  65. Like Foucault, Derrida used a lot of words to say very little. Pseudo-profundity for its own sake will sadly deceive and appeal to university students who are still wet behind the ears and looking for some sort of exciting crusade to make a 'new world' , and to egotistical trendy university lecturers who want to justify their existence. Ironically, the very students who are deceived by the likes of these 'philosophers' are the same ones who form mobs to disrupt meetings and shout down speakers who say things contrary to the students' brainwashed group narrative. Poor little darlings demand 'safe spaces' so they don't feel forced to actually learn from opposing views, thereby unwittingly negating Derrida's main thesis of deconstruction.

  66. What the fuck? Where is the philosophy?

  67. This piece of shit is probably the biggest reason why postmodernism is so prevalent these days and the left is nothing more than an antiwestern political platform.

  68. Celebrity intellectual, hahahaha. …. Horrible, horrible philosophy that has destroyed the study of literature wherever it was implemented. Also corrupted the English language with nonsense words and unreason. His and Foucault's works can be safely heaped on the rubbish pile. The academy is just starting to dig itself out of this cul-de-sac.

  69. Es Nietzsche aplicado a la literatura y la realidad

  70. Lol, you just had to put Trump in it, didn’t you? I’m glad I watched this though. I read a little bit of his work many years ago. Looking back it seems it has shaped my thought process to some extant. And look at me: I’m nowhere near the ideological left! His ideas is unfairly and incorrectly being attributed to Marxism by many scholars, whether they be proponents of the philosophy or antagonists.

  71. The problem with always looking for different interpretations is that you almost never take the author at their word. It’s like, what’s the point of literature if there’s no single objective meaning readers across time and space can get out of it to apply to their lives?

  72. I suppose this proves the point he was making but books and video games are not opposites. I am a player of RPG type games. The true opposite of books is movies. The brain actually goes into a lower power state for many people as they passively watch a moving picture. Video games, and even books are quite the opposite and stimulate.

  73. Derrida was not a malevolent man, but it is sad to see his philosophies being used in a malevolent way.

  74. I have the impression that suspiciously many people with ideas and deep knowledge of society die from pancreatic cancer and other incurable cancers. Are these cancers a kind of murder? I cannot say for sure, but it is a question to keep in mind.

  75. I know this is supposed to be a summary of Derrida and his work, but its failing to show the logical faults in his attack on reality…any tangible value to his work it lost when you see what the left has done with it.

  76. I don't see what's wrong in trying to see value and flaw in both sides of an argument, only people with highly inflated egos could be opposed to that

  77. Algerians philosophers tend to be very handsome and have great fashion sense.

  78. The king of sophistry and bullshit. Totally useless crap

  79. I love post modernism…. believe what you like, fake news is just as entertaining as real news. And who cares anyway. You're still going to war and you'll still be debt. Life's constants.

  80. Derrida just sounds like the enlightened centrist meme incarnate

  81. I studied at Cambridge for 3 yrs, the Sorbonne for another 3, University of Lausanne 2, and U of T 4. Semiotics (a branch of the humanities for which I retain a robust respect) was mixed up in the post-modern movement, which also included Michel Foucault, Lacan (a Freudian who substituted language as the prime mover in the subject's response to the referent, i.e. the outside world before we process it. Jacques Derrida either in French or any language into which he is translated is intentionally ambiguous. This to my mind is not a marker of elevated or elevating discourse. At no time did he intercede when the idea of cultural relativity went so far as to condone female circumcision in extreme theocratic Islamic states, or, taking it to the idiotic but very real extreme, a model at the Science Centre in Toronto, Canada which had without comment two models of the earth; one flat, one egg-shaped. I was immensely proud of myself as a much younger person to winkle out meaning from Derrida's books, just as I did with Sartre's Being and Nothingness, a work of ontology primarily indebted to Heiddiger (sp) a life-long Nazi supporter. I can see nothing but utter perversity or a real inability to think in prolonging the agony that is post-modernism. (Roland Barthes, associated with the movement was an independent thinker I entirely admire.)

  82. so he is algerian ! wow nice to know that

  83. anyone knows softwares/apps that can generate videos with styles similar to this video?

  84. Perhaps Derrida's reversal (aporia) originated in Marx. As we see Marx thought out the economical world and how everything from worker/capitalist, real/truth, practice/theory, public/private, etc…reversed. Then the structuralists got hold of that. And we have deconstruction. (Existentialist is also a reversal between essence/existence.) So what is this thing called 'reversal'. First of all, its depends on the world as being part language. Without language there is no philosophy, in fact no thought, in fact no existence cause language as logos was from the beginning of time. It is words that are reversed. Not the things. But then the words are changeable. Not things. And words do not move things. Does things move words?

  85. Derrida's philosophy is linked to that of Nagarjuna the Buddhist philosopher, hence is he enlightened?

  86. Muslim are antisemite? Please check What Mohamed 5 did in morroco and please fuck off you and you'r fake news

  87. Derrida was a Marxist monster who wanted to destroy everything that was good in Western Civilization. He was a master at Satanic relativism, wanting the destroy logic and individualism. This presentation is a superficial glorification of Derrida.

  88. Another freaking jew. It ALWAYS these ppl.

  89. Derrida challenges illusio with deconstruction.

  90. Please make lectures on j habermas,althussur,marcuse, Anthony giddings

  91. How could anyone be taken seriously after saying that: ''None of Islam, Judaism or Christianity, teach to respect others''. When one of the New Commandments (from Christ, of whom comes Christianity, right?) is: '''You should love others as yourself" ???… Two thumbs down for this video, Derrida and all of the ''confused one'' out there ! Wars have never been initiated by people following Christ advises, or real thinkers like Buddha, Gandhi, etc… Derrida is just a confused, confusing Confuser in comparison!

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