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Jacques Derrida
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4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  916 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Derrida joins in the revelry, weaving a complex pattern of puns, verbal echoes and allusions, intended to 'deconstruct' both the pretension of criticism to tell the truth about literature, and the pretension of philosophy to be the literature of truth.
Published (first published January 1st 1975)
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Aug 13, 2013 Gregsamsa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This was assigned to me in grad school in the 90s and it did me terrible damage, peeling back the skin of unexamined unities and making me feel naive and lazy in every particle and motion of my existence. It paralyzed my own writing by infecting me with a terribly self-conscious need to stave off simplistic certainties with annoying insecty swarms of quotation marks, alighting on every sticky key term I felt could only be used in the most provisional sense.

I got over it, and remember the exper
Dec 10, 2008 Rickeclectic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Contemporary philosophy buffs, literary criticism buffs
Shelves: philosophy
Contains one of the two most important, reasonably readable essays for understanding Derrida, "Plato's Pharmacy." Most of Derrida is very difficult to read, sometimes on purpose. This essay requires some knowledge of Plato and some willingness to do some background reading but it is much more accessible than most of Derrida's writing. Plato's pharmacy is a very careful reading of a short Platonic dialogue, The Phaedrus. The basics: Plato makes a case for how writing lies, how writing is a kind o ...more
Nov 29, 2007 Zach rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
On one hand, it's brilliant and thought provoking.

On the other hand, it's Derrida.
May 27, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: my ridiculously expensive liberal-arts education
i really get off on this book. i have to read it in carefully managed circumstances w/ very little other stimulation. it brings me to higher minds which pertain to & inspire my ideas of presence v. absence & the meaning generated from contradiction, that are part of my "Rhonda" fiction i'm writing. (now is that titillating? i'm working on marketing.) anyway also derrida brings me great entertainment in his ridiculously obtuse statements such as here's one i found: "The true is repeated; ...more
Conor Slattery
Jul 14, 2009 Conor Slattery rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, as many other have said, this is worth it for "Plato's Pharmacy" alone. Derrida follows the various translations that translators have used for translating the greek word to pharmakon: the greek word conveys senses of remedy, poison, drug, narcotic, magic potion, love philtre, and cure. Derrida shows how the various translations point towards the whole metaphysical situation of the binary. The pharmakon, however, is a trace which is both absent and present. Derrida sees writing as a co ...more
My first book of the infamous Derrida. I picked this one specifically because I heard it was one of his easier essay collections.

I admit that the writing style went well over my head. That is simply how he is. However, I kept getting the feeling that very little was being said. If there was something interesting, the point was repeated and hammered to death. It is almost stereotypically dense philosopher-prose. The dense language is used to make the threadbare analysis of language seem more mean
Oct 21, 2007 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: know-when-read
Incredibly dense but pretty essential stuff. Derrida sets out most of his main points here: that there's no definite "inside/outside" of a text; that some concepts can't be defined as either/or; that some texts don't signify anything exterior to themselves. It's a long and hard slog at times, full of footnotes and breathtakingly convoluted sentences. That said, when it's at its best, as in the extended discussion of the pharmakon in Plato, it is breathtaking and sets the mind reeling with joy.
Review pending re-reading. The preface, "Outwork," and "Plato's Pharmacy" are essential. I recall being unimpressed by "The Double Session" and annoyed by "Dissemination."

Update: My re-reading of "The Double Session" went very well. It is hailed - and "hailed" is the appropriate word, given the strange status Derrida has - as one of Derrida's most important texts on literary criticism. Apparently it takes two readings to begin to appreciate.

More later.
Graham McGrew
(I didn't read the whole book, just "Plato's Pharmacy" (and the translator's introduction)). Subterranean presence of pharmakos haunting Phaedrus. Taking grave matters lightly, at play in the field of signs, getting the nothingness back into words?
Jul 14, 2016 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like a You Tube Mix of Derrida's greatest hits (or themes): perhaps a bit redundant at times, but clearer than many of his other books in setting out his core ideas (e.g., the trace, our lack of mastery over the text -- in what we mean to say and in what we interpret, screens that connect and separate, and, in creating a blank of difference, allow for the space of writing across difference, and, above all, the play of meaning, escaping the proper name of the author, escaping the titled text, and ...more
Yakut Melikzadeh Akbay
The book consists of three parts, in which Derrida, as usual, unweaves texts of various philosophers, one of them being Socrates. Derrida deconstructs Socratic dialogue in the essay 'Plato's Pharmacy' aiming to reveal the inconsistencies written by Plato. Throughout the myth about the god of writing Theuth, there appear a number of binaries, such as a philosopher/a sophist, inside/outside, king/subject, good memory/evil memory, etc. In each of these binaries, the left side is always privileged a ...more
Dec 09, 2012 Phillip rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
After reading this book you come away thinking that a lot of the confusion that arose over the reception of Derrida's work stems to a certain degree from Derrida's texts themselves. There are numerous passages throughout this book where Derrida seems to go far beyond a critique of transcendental presence in actually trying to argue that perception itself is an outcome of the differential process. This derives from what Derrida is speaking of when he speaks of visibility, of what is. If what Derr ...more
So I've read some of Plato's Pharmacy and Différance.

My understanding of Derrida is so peripheral - I don't really get it, especially while I'm reading it. This frustrates me because I understand some of his points when I read other people writing about him, or listen to other people explain it. It seems that he makes everything hard because hes quite coy and loves fucking with the reader with puns and language games and complicated writing (constant allusion).

I'm not saying he shouldn't do thes
Feb 20, 2014 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've a love/hate relationship with Derrida, as his theories are very enlightening yet *very* rigorous. ...definitely a good start to gleaning how metanarratives and mythologemes are embedded within language.
Oct 22, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review will have to suffice for all of my reviews of Derrida's philosophy. Derrida is undoubtedly one of the great minds of 20th Century philosophy. Nonetheless, I have never finished a text of his without thinking that the fundamental insight presented was not more trouble than it was worth. Yes, his readings of Plato, Marx, Hegel and Heidegger are thoughtful and unpack the text in interesting ways. However, to get at what is interesting, the reader has to get through so many cognitive hoo ...more
Mar 21, 2014 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only read 'Plato's Pharmacy' in this.
Alex Obrigewitsch
Derrida's triptych of essays, in formation with the prefece that is no preface but is disseminated throught the entirety of the work, whose tripartite formation is not so much distinguished into three as folded up and intertwined into one (or many more, as it weaves its threads out beyond itself), is a working of deconstructive beauty.
My only gripe is now having to read Sollers' Numbers, which is no negative point at all.
A key to the Derridian text (which is no text in-itself and yet of all tex
Isla McKetta
I LOVED the preface of the book. The ideas inspired me to play with and look at language. After that, I got deeply lost (and not in a good way) in Derrida's complex language and ideas and felt I never could catch up. There were some gems along the way, but for the most part this book was well over my head. I found myself while reading this book wishing he would get on with it and say something (anything) I cared about. I think I am no longer the right audience for obtuse academic writing.
Jun 19, 2011 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
We were assigned the 100 page section Plato's Pharmacy. I was pleasantly surprised by the accessibility of this text in comparison to the other Derrida reading we were assigned. Derrida closely examines Plato's Phaedrus, opening my eyes to new ideas about this text. I need to continue playing with the ideas to let them sink in; there's definitely a lot packed in here! It was neat to revisit the Phaedrus and consider how much is in it itself and realize how many ways there are to dissect it.
Vincent Saint-Simon
Oct 09, 2007 Vincent Saint-Simon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Curt Bozif
Sirs and Madams,

People say that nothing good came from post-structuralism. Those ignorant swine never had the gumption to say it to Derrida's face. There is no more beautiful discussion of Platonic metaphysics anywhere. One of kind, and one of a century (literally).


Feb 16, 2008 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Derrida is, for me, akin to reading the Satanic Verses - I feel there is always such a wealth more than I have gotten from my first reading, and second, and third ... This one is by far one of my favorites, perhaps because Plato is so close to my heart.
Mar 25, 2012 Katrinka rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Every other book I've read by Derrida I've loved and found tremendously illuminating. I appreciate the thoughts here on citationality and the text-- but this tome might be the man's Finnegan's Wake, without the latter's fantastic wrap-up at the end.
Mar 29, 2016 Anicius rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Хахав текст, не разбрах все още повече от половината неща, но поне добих някаква представа за това, по какъв начин французите интерпретират немската философия. Трудно четиво! :/
Egor Sofronov
Mar 05, 2013 Egor Sofronov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Astounding. Anti-writing, non-fiction, nay para-fiction distilled from "How to read books" to the fundamental questions parsed with incomparable wit and immaculate style.
Jan 31, 2012 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Admittedly, I only read his essay "Plato's Pharmacy" but it is a thorough and close reading of Phaedrus and it demonstrates important features of Derrida's project.
Simone Roberts
Jun 29, 2010 Simone Roberts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm re-reading Jackie because my head needs to go home. And also because that centerless double-loop of the supplement is so just the way things are. ;-)
Jul 09, 2008 Justin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it changed my head.

the writing style is so fun and literary. it's fun catching all the metaphors that we use, ones we don't realize that we use.
Jan 29, 2008 justin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
not that I really understood it, but I have fond undergraduate memories of trying to figure out what the hell he was saying during my senior seminar.
Jul 14, 2016 sologdin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
several well known arguments here, including the hymen stuff, the pharmakon stuff, and the preface to end all prefaces.
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  • The Logic of Sense
  • Écrits
  • Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida
  • The differend: Phrases in dispute
  • Time and Narrative, Volume 1
  • The Imaginary
  • Aesthetic Theory
  • Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews
  • Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art
  • Giving an Account of Oneself
  • The Writing of the Disaster
  • Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation
  • Otherwise Than Being, or, Beyond Essence
  • The Origin of German Tragic Drama
Jacques Derrida was the founder of “deconstruction,” a way of criticizing not only both literary and philosophical texts but also political institutions. Although Derrida at times expressed regret concerning the fate of the word “deconstruction,” its popularity indicates the wide-ranging influence of his thought, in philosophy, in literary criticism and theory, in art and, in particular, architect ...more
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“A text is not a text unless it hides from the first comer, from the first glance, the law of its composition and the rules of its game. A text remains, moreover, forever imperceptible. Its laws and rules are not, however, harbored in the inaccessibility of a secret; it is simply that they can never be booked, in the present, into anything that could rigorously be called a perception.” 14 likes
“Let us being again. To take some examples: why should “literature” still designate that which already breaks away from literature—away from what has always been conceived and signified under that name—or that which, not merely escaping literature, implacably destroys it? (Posed in these terms, the question would already be caught in the assurance of a certain fore-knowledge: can “what has always been conceived and signified under that name” be considered fundamentally homogeneous, univocal, or nonconflictual?) To take other examples: what historical and strategic function should henceforth be assigned to the quotation marks, whether visible or invisible, which transform this into a “book,” or which still make the deconstruction of philosophy into a “philosophical discourse”?” 6 likes
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