Essential History: Jacques Derrida and the Development of Deconstruction

By Yenigun, Halil Ibrahim | The Virginia Quarterly Review, Summer 2006 | Go to article overview

Essential History: Jacques Derrida and the Development of Deconstruction


Yenigun, Halil Ibrahim, The Virginia Quarterly Review


Essential History: Jacques Derrida and the Development of Deconstruction, by Joshua Kates. Northwestern, November 2005. $74-95 cloth, $29.95 paper

In this new contribution to Derrida studies, Joshua Kates sets out to make up for the lack of a truly global interpretation of Derrida's thought. He seeks to develop a comprehensive view of Derrida, who has been lost in the rift between one camp that labels him a radical skeptic subscribing to linguistic determinism and another that sees deconstruction in greater proximity to traditional philosophy. All in all, Kates has less sympathy for the first view. The problem with the commentators in general, he maintains, is their reification of Derrida's works as an essentially homogeneous whole. As an alternative, he proposes a genealogical or developmental approach to Derrida's thought that would emphasize not only continuities but also discontinuities and ruptures, notwithstanding Derrida's own denial of such a major development in his thought.

Still, Kates is able to tease out the developmental trajectory of Derrida with an eye on his pre-deconstruction works to present Husserlian phenomenology as the philosophical milieu in which deconstruction was first forged. …

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