Questions of scope
However much readers of Derrida may disagree, there is no dispute about one point: that Derrida takes apparently clear binary oppositions and seeks to demonstrate that they are neither oppositions nor clear. One place where arguments do arise, though, is over the question whether Derrida's concern is critical or ideological. If the former, deconstruction consists in showing that the apparent opposition between, say, identity and difference is in fact a mode of difference, not an opposition. If the latter, deconstruction also demonstrates that a philosophical tradition of affirming the priority of identity is contested, within history, by a minor tradition which affirms the priority of difference. So far my discussion of Derrida has focussed upon criticism rather than ideology, arguing that appeals to a genetic origin and to a structural centre are equally open to deconstruction. I have pointed out Derrida's reliance upon the Heideggerian-Nietzschean account of the history of philosophy as the history of nihilism; but I have not yet considered Derrida's ideological stake in the history of philosophy.
Indeed, my examination of the status of deconstruction has tended to foreclose questions that might arise concerning its scope. Différance is not merely the name of a particular concept but also the condition of possibility for conceptuality as such. Thus the scope of deconstruction is unlimited: it operates in all texts - philosophical, theological, literary or whatever - as well as in all the various positions in any given dispute. A cursory reading of Derrida confirms this view. He points with the one hand to thinkers such as Plato and Hegel who elaborate the central themes of metaphysics with exemplary power; and, with the other hand, to writers such as Husserl and Heidegger who
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Publication information: Book title: The Trespass of the Sign: Deconstruction, Theology, and Philosophy. Contributors: Kevin Hart - Author. Publisher: Fordham University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 138.
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