(1930 - 2004)
Although some would denounce his philosophical theories
as obtuse, there are many who would acclaim Jacques Derrida as the most
influential contemporary philosopher. It was not until he moved to Paris,
France in 1949 that Derrida's philosophies began to really form in part
from the influence of French-Jewish writer, Jacob Jabs, French-Jewish
philosopher Emanuel Lvinas, Marxist theory, and Heidegger's philosophies.
Derrida was born on July 15 1930, in Biar, Algeria.
It was in the late 1960's that Derrida's philosophies were first introduced
with the 1967 publication of his books, Writing and Difference,
and Of Grammatology. During this period he also had the opportunity
to publish his works in France's, Tel Quel, which included other
works by then prominent Postmodernists, Bataille, Foucault, and Baudrillard.
However, Derrida is best known as the founder of Deconstructionist theory,
in which he takes apart western metaphysics and emphasizes the critical
reading of texts, questioning the way writers, readers, and philosophers
construct meaning, the structure of knowledge, and what the general
public proclaims to be self-evident, logical, and real. "He argued
that understanding something requires a grasp of the ways in which it
relates to other things, and a capacity to recognise it on other occasions
and in different contexts - which can never be exhaustively predicted.
He coined the term "differance" ( différance in French,
combining the meanings of difference and deferral) to characterize these
aspects of understanding, and proposed that differance is the phenomenon
lying at the heart of language and thought, at work in all meaningful
activities in a necessarily elusive and provisional way.1
Among his other works, Derrida is known for his publication Margins of Philosophy (1972) and Specters of Marx (1993).
Most recently, he was known to have written texts that relate to the
September 11, attacks on the United States. The essays were titled,
"The Concept of September 11" and "Hoodlum."
Before utilizing his knowledge, Derrida studied at
the Parisian Cole Normale Suprierure, and later became a professor at
the Sorbonne from 1960-1964, the Ecole Normale Superieure from 1964-1984,
and a director at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Science Sociales in
Paris. From 1986 on, he was Professor of Philosophy, French and Comparative
Literature at the University of California in Irvine. In 1992, he received
an honorary degree from Cambridge University.
On October 8, 2004, one of this centuries greatest
modern philosophers died of pancreatic cancer.
Post and Stanford
Presidential Lectures in the Humanities and Arts
1Derek Attridge and Thomas Baldwin, "Jacques
Unlimited, (October 11, 2004