This study poses two questions, seeks to demonstrate that they are intimately related, then examines several aspects of this relationship. One question - What is deconstruction? - is very new, while the other - What is the relationship between metaphysics and theology? - is very old indeed. Upon my reading, however, some of the earliest answers to the second question also partially answer the first. If this is so, metaphysics, theology and deconstruction have always existed in a covert economy; and in realising this, we can come to a better understanding of all three.
There is little doubt that 'deconstruction' is the most illusive of these three words. It has been endlessly quoted out of context, grafted onto various critical and political projects, become the butt of parodies, and been pronounced in so many tones, from contempt to reverence, that it cannot be formally defined without some remainder, however small. In fact the fate of the word 'deconstruction' offers one of the best indications of what deconstruction is: the demonstration that no text can be totalised without a supplement of signification. That this definition gives no hint of the wider institutional and cultural import of deconstruction points to its own need for supplementation. Yet the difficulty of pinning down 'deconstruction' is not only a consequence of the state of affairs the word describes but also a matter of polemics, politics and influence.
Over the last twenty years or so the writings of Jacques Derrida have acted like an intellectual yeast. Very few people have actually read such large, imposing tomes as Of grammatology, Dissemination and Glas from beginning to end, yet everyone, it seems, has been influenced by what they say. After all, reading Derrida is nothing if not arduous: without a detailed knowledge of a certain philosophical tradition - one that