Derrida Quotes

Quotes tagged as "derrida" Showing 1-23 of 23
John Rogers Searle
“With Derrida, you can hardly misread him, because he’s so obscure. Every time you say, "He says so and so," he always says, "You misunderstood me." But if you try to figure out the correct interpretation, then that’s not so easy. I once said this to Michel Foucault, who was more hostile to Derrida even than I am, and Foucault said that Derrida practiced the method of obscurantisme terroriste (terrorism of obscurantism). We were speaking French. And I said, "What the hell do you mean by that?" And he said, "He writes so obscurely you can’t tell what he’s saying, that’s the obscurantism part, and then when you criticize him, he can always say, 'You didn’t understand me; you’re an idiot.' That’s the terrorism part." And I like that. So I wrote an article about Derrida. I asked Michel if it was OK if I quoted that passage, and he said yes.”
John R. Searle

Jacques Derrida
“The poet…is the man of metaphor: while the philosopher is interested only in the truth of meaning, beyond even signs and names, and the sophist manipulates empty signs…the poet plays on the multiplicity of signifieds.”
Jacques Derrida

Friedrich Nietzsche
“I have forgotten my umbrella. ”
Friedrich Nietzsche

Noam Chomsky
“French intellectual life has, in my opinion, been turned into something cheap and meretricious by the 'star' system. It is like Hollywood. Thus we go from one absurdity to another - Stalinism, existentialism. Lacan, Derrida - some of them obscene ( Stalinism), some simply infantile and ridiculous ( Lacan, Derrida). What is striking, however, is the pomposity and self-importance, at each stage.”
Noam Chomsky

“The assumption that Derrida always knows what he is talking about is not Derridean.”
Timothy Morton, The Ecological Thought

Terry Eagleton
“Certain American uses of deconstruction, Derrida has observed, work to ensure ‘an institutional closure’ which serves the dominant political and economic interests of American society. Derrida is clearly out to do more than develop new techniques of reading: deconstruction is for him an ultimately political practice, an attempt to dismantle the logic by which a particular system of thought, and behind that a whole system of political structures and social institutions, maintains its force. He is not seeking, absurdly, to deny the existence of relatively determinate truths, meanings, identities, intentions, historical continuities; he is seeking rather to see such things as the effects of a wider and deeper history of language, of the unconscious, of social institutions and practices.”
Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction

David Markson
“Was it John Searle who called Jacques Derrida the sort of philosopher who gives bullshit a bad name?”
David Markson

Terry Eagleton
“Woman is the opposite, the ‘other’ of man: she is non-man, defective man, assigned a chiefly negative value in relation to the male first principle. But equally man is what he is only by virtue of ceaselessly shutting out this other or opposite, defining himself in antithesis to it, and his whole identity is therefore caught up and put at risk in the very gesture by which he seeks to assert his unique, autonomous existence. Woman is not just an other in the sense of something beyond his ken, but an other intimately related to him as the image of what he is not, and therefore as an essential reminder of what he is. Man therefore needs this other even as he spurns it, is constrained to give a positive identity to what he regards as no-thing. Not only is his own being parasitically dependent upon the woman, and upon the act of excluding and subordinating her, but one reason why such exclusion is necessary is because she may not be quite so other after all. Perhaps she stands as a sign of something in man himself which he needs to repress, expel beyond his own being, relegate to a securely alien region beyond his own definitive limits. Perhaps what is outside is also somehow inside, what is alien also intimate — so that man needs to police the absolute frontier between the two realms as vigilantly as he does just because it may always be transgressed, has always been transgressed already, and is much less absolute than it appears.”
Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction

“Like the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School, postmodernism seeks to institutionalize dishonesty as a legitimate school of thought. The idea of truth as the ultimate goal of the intellectual is discarded. In its place, scholars are asked to pursue political objectives--so long as those political objectives are the 'correct' ones. Postmodernism is not fringe within the community of scholars. It is central. This tells us a great deal about the life of the mind today. Peruse any university course catalogue, and you find names like Foucault, Derrida, and Barthes. Scour the footnotes of scholarly books and journals and a similar story unfolds. With the primacy of philosophies--postmodernism, Critical Theory, and even the right-leaning Straussianism--that exalt dishonesty in the service of supposedly noble causes, is it at all surprising that liars like Alfred Kinsey, Rigoberta Menchu, Alger Hiss, and Margaret Sanger have achieved a venerated status among the intellectuals?”
Daniel J. Flynn, Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas

Terry Eagleton
“Derrida… labels as ‘metaphysical’ any such thought system which depends on an unassailable foundation, a first principle or unimpeachable ground upon which a whole hierarchy of meanings may be constructed. It is not that he believes that we can merely rid ourselves of the urge to forge such first principles, for such an impulse is deeply embedded in our history, and cannot — at least as yet — be eradicated or ignored. Derrida would see his own work as inescapably ‘contaminated’ by such metaphysical thought, much as he strives to give it the slip. But if you examine such first principles closely, you can see that they may always be ‘deconstructed’: they can be shown to be products of a particular system of meaning, rather than what props it up from the outside.”
Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction

James N. Powell
“So that to give a commentary on the text, such as we are attempting here, is to reinforce the illusion that a present meaning exists–that a text can be presented.

When I try to present a commentary (as I am doing here), I necessarily resist the suction of the play of meanings which attempts to suck any such attempt–which it produces–back into a void. If I try to explain the text, I forget that the production of my explanation is already related to its dissolution, its disappearance into a textual void, a void between any two readings, a void which is always already producing another reading, and its dissolution.”
James N. Powell, Derrida for Beginners

James K.A. Smith
“Or, to put it another way, presuppositional apologetics--such as that developed by Francis Schaeffer, but also by Cornelius Van Til and, to a degree, Herman Dooeyeweerd--rejects classical apologetics precisely because presuppositionalism recognizes the truth of Derrida's claim that everything is interpretation (though I am admittedly radicalizing their intuitions).”
James K.A. Smith, Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church

“Post-structuralism is a reaction to structuralism
and works against seeing language as a stable,
closed system. It is a shift from seeing the poem
or novel as a closed entity, equipped with definite
meanings which it is the critic's task to decipher,
to seeing literature as irreducibly plural, an
endless play of signifiers which can never be
finally nailed down to a single center, essence,
or meaning.

Jan Rybicki, 2003”
e. smith sleigh, Post Structuralism and Related Quotes: from Jacques Derrida, Judith Kristeva, and Many Others

Jacques Derrida
“Are you a relativist simply because you say, for instance, that the other is the other, and that every other is other than the other? If I want to pay attention to the singularity of the other, the singularity of the situation, the singularity of language, is that relativism? … No, relativism is a doctrine which has its own history in which there are only points of view with no absolute necessity, or no references to absolutes. That is the opposite to what I have to say. … I have never said such a thing. Neither have I ever used the word relativism.”
Jacques Derrida

Helen DeWitt
“Brian starts telling stories about Derrida: perfectly happy, it seems, to accept all the privileges of the author. Theories of authorial absence, says Brian, tend to leave out the curious circumstance that the author is always there to pick up his cheque.”
Helen DeWitt, Some Trick: Thirteen Stories

N.T. Wright
“Most Bible-readers of a conservative stamp will look askance at deconstructionism. But its proposed model is in fact too close for comfort to many models implicitly adopted within (broadly speaking) the pietist tradition. The church has actually institutionalized and systematized ways of reading the Bible which are strangely similar to some strands of postmodernism. In particular, the church has lived with the gospels virtually all its life, and familiarity has bred a variety of more or less contemptible hermeneutical models. Even sometimes within those circles that claim to take the Bible most seriously—often, in fact, there above all—there is a woeful refusal to do precisely that, particularly with the gospels. The modes of reading and interpretation that have been followed are, in fact, functions of the models of inspiration and authority of scripture that have been held, explicitly or (more often) implicitly within various circles, and which have often made nonsense of any attempt to read the Bible historically. The devout predecessor of deconstructionism is that reading of the text which insists that what the Bible says to me, now, is the be-all and end-all of its meaning; a reading which does not want to know about the intention of the evangelists, the life of the early church, or even about what Jesus was actually like. There are some strange bedfellow in the world of literary epistemology.”
N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God

“The most direct critique [in the TV series The Prisoner] of what might be called the politics-industry of late capitalism, however, is undoubtedly [the episode] “Free for All”, both the funeral dirge for the national mass party and the unofficial founding charter of the New Left. In many ways, “Free for All” is the logical complement to the visual innovations and luminous mediatic strategies of “A., B. & C.”; whereas the latter identifies the space of the editing room as a new kind of cultural zone, and thus transforms a certain visual recursion into a protomorphic video library of images, the former concentrates not on the image per se but on the messages and texts transmitted by such—or what Derrida would identify as the thematic of a dissemination which is never quite identical with what is being disseminated. But where deconstruction and post-structuralism promptly sealed off this potentially explosive insight behind the specialized ghettos of linguistics or ontological philosophy, and thus unwittingly perpetuated precisely the authoritarian monopoly over theory authorized by the ontologies in the first place, the most insightful intellectuals of the New Left (most notably, Adorno and Sartre) would insist on the necessarily mediated nature of this dissemination, i.e. the fact that the narrative-industries of late capitalism are hardly innocent bystanders in the business of accumulation, but play an indispensable role in creating new markets, restructuring old ones, and ceaselessly legitimating, transacting and regulating the sway of the commodity form over society as a whole.”
Dennis Redmond, The World is Watching: Video as Multinational Aesthetics, 1968-1995

“And no amount of “deconstruction” helps here: the ultimate formof idolatry is the deconstructive purifying of this Other, so that all thatremains of the Other is its place, the pure form of Otherness as theMessianic Promise. It is here that we encounter the limit of decon-struction: as Derrida himself has realized in the last two decades, themore radical a deconstruction is, the more it has to rely on its inher-ent undeconstructible condition of deconstruction, the messianicpromise of Justice.This promise is the true Derridean object of belief,and Derrida’s ultimate ethical axiom is that this belief is irreducible,“undeconstructible.” Thus Derrida can indulge in all kinds of para-doxes, claiming, among other things, that it is only atheists who trulypray—precisely by refusing to address God as a positive entity, theysilently address the pure Messianic Otherness. Here one should em-phasize the gap which separates Derrida from the Hegelian tradition:It would be too easy to show that, measured by the failure to establishliberal democracy, the gap between fact and ideal essence does notshow up only in . . . so-called primitive forms of government, theoc-racy and military dictatorship....But this failure and this gap alsocharacterize,a prioriand by definition,all democracies, including theoldest and most stable of so-called Western democracies. At stake hereis the very concept of democracy as concept of a promise that can onlyarise in such a diastema(failure, inadequation, disjunction, disadjust-ment, being “out of joint”).That is why we always propose to speak ofa democracy to come,not of a futuredemocracy in the future present, noteven of a regulating idea, in the Kantian sense, or of a utopia—at leastto the extent that their inaccessibility would still retain the temporalform of a future present,of a future modality of the living present.15Here we have the difference between Hegel and Derrida at its purest:Derrida accepts Hegel’s fundamental lesson that one cannot assert theinnocent ideal against its distorted realization.This holds not only fordemocracy, but also for religion—the gap which separates the idealconcept from its actualization is already inherent to the concept itself:just as Derrida claims that “God already contradicts Himself,” that anypositive conceptual determination of the divine as a pure messianicpromise already betrays it, one should also say that “democracy already139 contradicts itself.” It is also against this background that Derrida elab-orates the mutual implication of religion and radical evil:16radical evil(politically: “totalitarianism”) emerges when religious faith or reason(or democracy itself) is posited in the mode of future present.
Against Hegel, however, Derrida insists on the irreducible excess inthe ideal concept which cannot be reduced to the dialectic betweenthe ideal and its actualization: the messianic structure of “to come,”the excess of an abyss which can never be actualized in its determinatecontent. Hegel’s own position here is more intricate than it may ap-pear: his point is not that, through gradual dialectical progress, onecan master the gap between the concept and its actualization, andachieve the concept’s full self-transparency (“Absolute Knowing”).Rather, to put it in speculative terms, his point is to assert a “pure”contradiction which is no longer the contradiction between theundeconstructible pure Otherness and its failed actualizations/determinations, but the thoroughly immanent “contradiction” whichprecedes any Otherness.”

“Sartre threw away the entire content of thebourgeois subject, maintaining only its pure form, and the next stepwas to throw away this form itself—is it not that,mutatis mutandis,Der-rida threw away all the positive ontological content of messianism, re-taining nothing but the pure form of the messianic promise, and thenext step is to throw away this form itself? And, again, is this not alsothe passage from Judaism to Christianity? Judaism reduces the prom-ise of Another Life to a pure Otherness, a messianic promise whichwill never become fully present and actualized (the Messiah is always
“to come”); while Christianity, far from claiming full realization ofthe promise, accomplishes something far more uncanny: the Messiahis here, he has arrived, the final Event has already taken place,yet the gap(the gap which sustained the messianic promise) remains....Here I am tempted to suggest a return to the earlier Derrida ofdifférance:what if (as Ernesto Laclau, among others, has already ar-gued17) Derrida’s turn to “postsecular” messianism is not a necessaryoutcome of his initial “deconstructionist” impetus? What if the ideaof infinite messianic Justice which operates in an indefinite suspen-sion, always to come, as the undeconstructible horizon of decon-struction, already obfuscates “pure”différance,the pure gap whichseparates an entity from itself? Is it not possible to think this pure in-between priorto any notion of messianic justice? Derrida acts as ifthe choice is between positive onto-ethics, the gesture of transcend-ing the existing order toward another higher positive Order, andthe pure promise of spectral Otherness—what, however, if we dropthis reference to Otherness altogether? What then remains is eitherSpinoza—the pure positivity of Being—or Lacan—the minimal con-tortion of drive, the minimal “empty” (self-)difference which is op-erative when a thing starts to function as a substitute for itself.
As Freud observed, the very acts that are forbidden by religion arepracticed in the name of religion. In such cases—as, for instance, mur-der in the name of religion—religion also can do entirely withoutminiaturization.Those adamantly militant advocates of human life, forexample, who oppose abortion, will not stop short of actually mur-dering clinic personnel. Radical right-wing opponents of male homo-sexuality in the USA act in a similar way.They organize so-called “gaybashings” in the course of which they beat up and finally rape gays.
What we have here, yet again, is the Hegelian “oppositional determi-nation”: in the figure of the gay-basher raping a gay, the gay encoun-ters himself in its oppositional determination; that is to say, tautology(self-identity) appears as the highest contradiction.This threshold canalso function as the foreign gaze itself: for example, when a disen-chanted Western subject perceives Tibet as a solution to his crisis, Ti-bet loses its immediate self-identity, and turns into a sign of itself,its own “oppositional determination.”

William of Ockham
“Omnis homo praeter Sortem currit, igitur Plato currit et sic de aliis a Sorte.”
William of Ockham, Philosophical Writings

“Differance brings together the two notions of differing and deferring.”
Nicholas Royle, Jacques Derrida

“The question ‘Why Derrida?’ is absurd: it makes me smile. There is something at once appalling and hilarious about it. It is like asking ‘Why culture?’, ‘Why education?’, ‘Why think?”
Nicholas Royle, Jacques Derrida

“There are always differences, tensions, paradoxes between what a text says (or what an author wants to say, or thinks s/he is saying) and what a text does.”
Nicholas Royle, Jacques Derrida