Derrida: Deconstruction from Phenomenology to Ethics

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9780745611686: Derrida: Deconstruction from Phenomenology to Ethics
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This book is an unusually readable and lucid account of the development of Derrida's work, from his early writings on phenomenology and structuralism to his most recent interventions in debates on psychoanalysis, ethics and politics.

Christina Howells gives a clear explanation of many of the key terms of deconstruction - including differance, trace, supplement and logocentrism - and shows how they function in Derrida's writing. She explores his critique of the notion of self-presence through his engagement with Husserl, and his critique of humanist conceptions of the subject through an account of his ambivalent and evolving relationship to the philosophy of Sartre. The question of the relationship between philosophy and literature is examined through an analysis of the texts of the 1970s, and in particular Glas, where Derrida confronts Hegel's totalizing dialectics with the fragmentary and iconoclastic writings of Jean Genet.

The author addresses directly the vexed questions of the extreme difficulty of Derrida's own writing and of the passionate hostility it arouses in philosophers as diverse as Searle and Habermas. She argues that deconstruction is a vital stimulus to vigilance in both the ethical and political spheres, contributing significantly to debate on issues such as democracy, the legacy of Marxism, responsibility, and the relationship between law and justice.

Comprehensive, cogently argued and up to date, this book will be an invaluable text for students and scholars alike.

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The problem with books about Jacques Derrida and deconstruction is that they tend to be as abstruse and difficult to approach as some of Derrida's own work. Derrida's philosophy, heavily influenced by semiotics (the science of signs) and linguistics, is hugely influential but seen by many to be willfully obscure. Deconstruction--the word comes from the French de (of) coupled with construction--is a method of very close reading that can be seen as a maverick way of reading the text against its ostensible intentions, sometimes against the conscious wishes of the author, thereby demonstrating its instability. Derrida also rails against what he calls "the metaphysics of presence"--the idea, central to Western philosophy, that a real, true self exists, which he identifies as part of a system of binary oppositions in which presence (male, white, etc.) is always prioritized over absence (female, black, etc.).

Christina Howells's invigorating, closely argued book has the great recommendation of readability and clarity. Her opening review of phenomenology ("a philosophy of consciousness which attempts to put aside preconceptions about the relationship between mind and world") is extremely useful. So too is her ongoing concern about the often ignored relationship between Derrida and the intellectual project of Jean-Paul Sartre's existentialism. Her chapter on structuralism is a little too brief and, overall, the book seldom takes issue with Derrida's positions, seeing in deconstruction a benign ethics and a truly democratic impulse. While many have questioned this position (often, according to Howells, through misreading Derrida by conflating his views with the author and text he is deconstructing), she ably defends the whole Derridean enterprise. Inevitably--particularly with a fast-working author like Derrida--such a primer has gaps, but these in no way mar this enjoyable overview, which will give many readers the confidence to tackle the source works. --Mark Thwaite, Amazon.co.uk

About the Author:

Christina Howells is Reader in French and Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford.

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Book Description Polity Press, United Kingdom, 1998. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. This book is an unusually readable and lucid account of the development of Derridaa s work, from his early writings on phenomenology and structuralism to his most recent interventions in debates on psychoanalysis, ethics and politics. Christina Howells gives a clear explanation of many of the key terms of deconstruction -- including differance, trace, supplement and logocentrism -- and shows how they function in Derridaa s writing. She explores his critique of the notion of self--presence through his engagement with Husserl, and his critique of humanist conceptions of the subject through an account of his ambivalent and evolving relationship to the philosophy of Sartre. The question of the relationship between philosophy and literature is examined through an analysis of the texts of the 1970s, and in particular Glas, where Derrida confronts Hegela s totalizing dialectics with the fragmentary and iconoclastic writings of Jean Genet. The author addresses directly the vexed questions of the extreme difficulty of Derridaa s own writing and of the passionate hostility it arouses in philosophers as diverse as Searle and Habermas. She argues that deconstruction is a vital stimulus to vigilance in both the ethical and political spheres, contributing significantly to debate on issues such as democracy, the legacy of Marxism, responsibility, and the relationship between law and justice. Comprehensive, cogently argued and up to date, this book will be an invaluable text for students and scholars alike. Seller Inventory # AAH9780745611686

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Book Description Polity Press, United Kingdom, 1998. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. This book is an unusually readable and lucid account of the development of Derridaa s work, from his early writings on phenomenology and structuralism to his most recent interventions in debates on psychoanalysis, ethics and politics. Christina Howells gives a clear explanation of many of the key terms of deconstruction -- including differance, trace, supplement and logocentrism -- and shows how they function in Derridaa s writing. She explores his critique of the notion of self--presence through his engagement with Husserl, and his critique of humanist conceptions of the subject through an account of his ambivalent and evolving relationship to the philosophy of Sartre. The question of the relationship between philosophy and literature is examined through an analysis of the texts of the 1970s, and in particular Glas, where Derrida confronts Hegela s totalizing dialectics with the fragmentary and iconoclastic writings of Jean Genet. The author addresses directly the vexed questions of the extreme difficulty of Derridaa s own writing and of the passionate hostility it arouses in philosophers as diverse as Searle and Habermas. She argues that deconstruction is a vital stimulus to vigilance in both the ethical and political spheres, contributing significantly to debate on issues such as democracy, the legacy of Marxism, responsibility, and the relationship between law and justice. Comprehensive, cogently argued and up to date, this book will be an invaluable text for students and scholars alike. Seller Inventory # AAH9780745611686

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