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Writing and Difference

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,180 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
First published in 1967, Writing and Difference, a collection of Jacques Derrida's essays written between 1959 and 1966, has become a landmark of contemporary French thought. In it we find Derrida at work on his systematic deconstruction of Western metaphysics. The book's first half, which includes the celebrated essay on Descartes and Foucault, shows the development of De ...more
Paperback, 362 pages
Published February 15th 1980 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1967)
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Phenomenology of Spirit by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich HegelBeing and Time by Martin HeideggerCritique of Pure Reason by Immanuel KantFinnegans Wake by James JoyceThe Cantos by Ezra Pound
42nd out of 232 books — 285 voters
Infinite Jest by David Foster WallaceGravity's Rainbow by Thomas PynchonThe Third Policeman by Flann O'BrienSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutLabyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
A Postmodernist "Canon"
35th out of 184 books — 61 voters

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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Feb 27, 2013 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Le tout sans nouveauté qu’un espacement de la lecture. -- Mallarmé, Preface to Un Coup de dés

I had in mind, perhaps, to perform a public service, to undertake finally Derrida’s Writing and Difference, to head off the intentions of my goodreads Friends who have been intrigued by this THING. Let me stop right there. Recently some interest has been expressed among my Friends to look into what Derrida is all about, and one should, should one so might. This volume in particular was indicated. I know
Amber Todoroff
Jan 30, 2013 Amber Todoroff rated it did not like it
Shopenhaur says if you can't understand what a person is saying, chances are they're not saying anything at all. I did not waste my time with some of these essays. some readers are taken by derrida's extremely large vocabulary and overly indulgent syntax, but these are only barriers to understanding behind which he hides his intellectual bankruptcy. Here is my favorite quote from differance-

"one can expose only that which at a certain moment can become present, manifest, that which can be shown
May 26, 2012 Benjamin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
What is it to read Derrida? Is it not to read reading itself? But how does one read reading if one cannot read? Derrida presents his own "readings" of reading, but then what do I read? I bought this book- which itself is a negation of buying, an erasure of "that which is not bought"- in order to get to grips with Der-rida who I'd always-already had trouble understanding. I'd read two introductory texts that I thought (or "thought I", the presupposition of the presence of I in thought, and though ...more
Oct 14, 2012 Katie rated it really liked it
Yikes. This is probably the most difficult book I've ever read. I feel a little weird reviewing it, honestly, because I'm not sure I really comprehended it at all. But Derrida has let me know that poems are nothing without the risk of being meaningless and that language is crazy signifying play all the time anyway, so I will give it a go. Once I write words down they're apparently alienated from me forever, so make of this what you will!

Derrida is all about deconstructions. There are ideas all o
Oct 07, 2008 Mr. rated it really liked it
With this collection of subversive essays, Jacques Derrida exploded onto the scene of post-modern philosophy in Europe and the US though he didn't have a doctorate or teaching position at the time. In it, he demonstrates for the first time his conception of `deconstruction,' an apparently inexplicable concept which enables the analysis of `inter-textuality' and `binary-oppositions,' to be revealed. `Writing and Difference,' is of course a difficult text, and analytic philosophers don't even both ...more
Dec 12, 2008 Matt rated it it was ok
The abstract art of modern philosophy. Self-indulgent (others say playful), unnecessarily digressive and round-about----the actual conceptual depth of what is conveyed, while it was surely groundbreaking, can be stated in terms much simpler than Derrida's. Derrida is a cultural hero to many and the gravitational mass of the cult that surrounds him has bent the light in the eyes of those who adulate a man that can do no wrong.
I once heard Derrida give a lecture in Auckland on the concept of mercy
May 19, 2015 Ananya rated it it was ok
It's frustrating to know that there's something out there in the English language that's completely out of my grasp .WHAT THE FUCK
Tasniem Sami
وَلَوْ أَنَّمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مِن شَجَرَةٍ أَقْلَامٌ وَالْبَحْرُ يَمُدُّهُ مِن بَعْدِهِ سَبْعَةُ أَبْحُرٍ مَّا نَفِدَتْ كَلِمَاتُ اللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ (27)
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لذلك نحس تحت لغة الكاتب الأصيل هذه الحركة التب تحاول سحب الكلام الملفوظ ك" الزفير" .لذلك كتاب مثل فرجينيا ولف وفوكنر وت.س اليوت كانو علي وعي بان "الكتاب" لا يوجد وأن ثمة للأبد كتب ينكسر فيها معني عالم غير مُفكر فيه من قبل ذات واعية قادرة
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على المعني ان ينتظر ان يقال او ان -يكتب ،حتي يسكن نفسه ويصبح مايكونه باختلافه عن نفسه
Aug 23, 2007 Eric rated it it was amazing
I had a class that Derrida guest lectured at right before he passed away. He was still thinking. That should have been his epitaph.
John Lucy
May 24, 2013 John Lucy rated it liked it
Every time I read Derrida I remember that he is hard to read. I don't want to sound dumb, but the big words and esoteric concepts that he uses, constantly, weigh down the text for the reader. Each paragraph is a struggle. Some people can read through these types of things more easily than others, of course, but the number of those people who will read Derrida for fun are quite few. At the end of the day Derrida is a little out of reach for the ordinary person, which is a shame.

Before reading thi
Draco3seven Crawdady
Nov 20, 2007 Draco3seven Crawdady rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Socio or philosopher
The structural nature of Western thought. He says:

“the concept of structure and even the word “structure” it self are as old as the episteme that is to say as old as western science and western philosophy and their roots thrust deep into the soil of ordinary language, into whose deepest recesses the episteme plunges in order to gather them up and to make them part of itself in a metaphorical displacement. Nevertheless, up to event which I wish to mark out and define, structure-or rather the stru
Apr 03, 2008 Vignette-Noelle rated it really liked it
Okay...just finished it last night.

First of all. if you are not a fan- do not read this book. haha.

Secondly, if you're still not really sure what linguistic deconstruction is all about, the first half of this book would be a good introduction to Derrida's philosophy.

Thirdly, this book is awesome! While it is not as in depth as some of his other works, it is still a refreshing read if you're interested in deconstruction.
Alexander Panagiotou
G'damn, what a collection. Derrida pitches and elaborates his philosophy of Writing (or, dfférance) with and against his gamut of (now) dead, white, European men (Husserl, Freud, Bataille, Levi-Strauss, Levinas, Arataud, Jabes). Not that he ever pretended to do anything else than work with the tradition he inherited. Still, it's an incredibly demanding work, not necessarily because of it's style (I thoroughly enjoy the way Derrida writes), but because of how much assumed knowledge each essay ta ...more
Feb 14, 2012 Iryna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Started it today and decided I don't want to read it. Read a dozen pages and didn't understand a single thought. Maybe I'm just not fit for the job :)
Jun 23, 2015 T. rated it did not like it
Shelves: philosophy
Interesting to compare the opening essay with "Sign, Structure and Play," as both are critiques of structuralism using Nietzsche as base. The difference being: the earlier essay is still using the Nietzsche of Deleuze, while the latter is wholly Derrida. So you get a metaphysical and extra-textual force which undergrids the possibility of structure or you get the textual play of signifiers. And after the opening essay, Derrida abandons any mention of force. It's no wonder the pieces on Bataille ...more
Jun 06, 2014 Kris rated it really liked it
Incomprehensibly good.
Feb 04, 2014 Derek rated it liked it
started to talk about first couple of essays here:
Ruhat alp
Nov 12, 2012 Ruhat alp rated it it was amazing
Postmodernistelerin piri.Ona göre Tarih bilimi edebiyata yakın,bu nedenle bilimsel kimliği sorgulanmalı.Herşey metindir ve metindeki dil gerçekliği belirler diyor kendileri.Haklılık payı var ama kanımca tarih bir bilimdir,evet metindeki dil ve tarihçinin ideolojik duruşu gerçekliği belirler fakat bu tarihin bilim olmadığı anlamına gelmez.Sadece nesnellik sorunumuz var.Misal;Bir sırp'ın Osmanlı'ya bakışı ile bir Boşnak'ın bakışı çok farklı.
Kate Savage
Nov 17, 2013 Kate Savage rated it it was ok
I was feeling pretty smart because I enjoy Derrida's social and political commentary. And then I dipped into his theory on language. I was perpetually lost. So I sat in the lost-ness and dug out little serviceable fragments, like:

"it is necessary still to inhabit the metaphor in ruins, to dress oneself in tradition’s shred and the devil’s patches"

Lovely, but shred and patches are all I'm left with.
Giorgi Komakhidze
"We need to interpret interpretations more than to interpret
Well, yes, Montaigne was right. Derrida's writing is doubting, something like unfinished, chaotic, abnormal. It's full of intelligence and braveness, though.

3.5 actually.
Alex Obrigewitsch
Aug 29, 2014 Alex Obrigewitsch rated it it was amazing
An absolute must for any Derrida reader (which is to infer an absolute must absolutely).
Also a good entry into Derrida, I guess. For is there any real entry into a deferring motion that has no real beginning or end as it slips within and without of the metaphysical closure?
On a personal level, I enjoyed the "Violence and Metaphysics" essay the most.
Nov 10, 2014 Will rated it it was ok
oh my god, hell no. impenetrable prose. i read three and a half essays before calling it quits. i think i understood about 15-20 percent at the best of times. i'm not smart enough, likely, but the little i culled was interesting food for thought at least. it's just not fun to read, no matter how revolutionary he was or how vociferous his support.
Jan 22, 2010 Anthony rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy-etc
re-checked this out after giving up on it the first time-- love the chapter on jabes, but the chapter on foucault leaves a funky taste in my mouth-- and there is still a lot in here i'm going to need to come back to later (for example, i can't even begin to read derrida's reading of bataille's reading of hegel when i haven't yet read any hegel...)
Apr 12, 2007 Gavin marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: given-up-for-now
Argh this is giving me a headache. I may not make it. I have a feeling Derrida works a lot better if you already have a solid grounding in structuralism (this is post-structuralism) or in any eighteenth to twentieth century philosophy first. I don't, really, or not enough.
Okay... I LOVE deconstruction and difference, but this book made me feel like a blathering idiot. I've attempted it 3 times and I fear that I am just not a good enough reader to follow it. I'm really glad other people have read Derrida and can tell me what he said.
Oct 07, 2015 Jason rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Writing and Difference - yeah, baby, yeah! Be prepared to get your analytical magnifying glass out. Probably worth a weekend of head scratching, and Derrida is a good name to drop at the proverbial cocktail party :)
Jun 21, 2010 Spoust1 rated it it was amazing
Review pending re-reading, which is in progress. I will say that this has some of Derrida's most exciting and powerful writings. "Sign, Structure, and Play" leaves me breathless each time I revisit it.
David Tan
Jan 19, 2011 David Tan rated it liked it
An impossible work to read without prior knowledge in Deconstruction/Continental Philosophy. Nonetheless, important in understanding the problems of metaphysical presence within a text.
Mar 14, 2011 Sam added it
Read "Freud and the Scene of Writing" and "Structure, Sign and Play in the Human Sciences" my junior year in a small reading group. Learning curve was crazy but mannnnnn it was worth it.
Eric Phetteplace
Nov 24, 2008 Eric Phetteplace marked it as to-read
Shelves: philosophy
rapidly falling down this queue...Derrida has never seemed all that relevant to me, and these are probably exercises referring to texts I haven't yet read.
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  • Difference and Repetition
  • Écrits
  • Being and Event
  • S/Z
  • Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings
  • The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language
  • The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays
  • The Culture Industry
  • The Accursed Share 1: Consumption
  • The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge
  • Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays
  • Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) 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 particula ...more
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“That philosophy died yesterday, since Hegel or Marx, Nietzsche, or Heidegger—and philosophy should still wander toward the meaning of its death—or that it has always lived knowing itself to be dying... that philosophy died one day, within history, or that it has always fed on its own agony, on the violent way it opens history by opposing itself to nonphilosophy, which is its past and its concern, its death and wellspring; that beyond the death, or dying nature, of philosophy, perhaps even because of it, thought still has a future, or even, as is said today, is still entirely to come because of what philosophy has held in store; or, more strangely still, that the future itself has a future—all these are unanswerable questions. By right of birth, and for one time at least, these are problems put to philosophy as problems philosophy cannot resolve.” 17 likes
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