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Why Is Deconstruction Important?

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Deconstruction is a form of philosophical and literary analysis, derived mainly from work begun in the 1960s by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, that questions the fundamental conceptual distinctions, or “oppositions,” in Western philosophy through a close examination of the language and logic of philosophical and literary texts.

Introduction

Deconstruction by its very nature defies institutionalization in an authoritative definition. The concept was first outlined by Derrida in Of Grammatology where he explored the interplay between language and the construction of meaning. From this early work, and later works in which he has attempted to explain deconstruction to others, most notably the Letter to a Japanese Friend, it is possible to provide a basic explanation of what deconstruction is commonly understood to mean. Three key features emerge from Derrida’s work as making deconstruction possible. These are, first, the inherent desire to have a centre, or focal point, to structure understanding (logocentrism); second, the reduction of meaning to set definitions that are committed to writing (nothing beyond the text); and, finally, how the reduction of meaning to writing captures opposition within that concept itself (différance). These three features found the possible meaning of deconstruction as a form of understanding the relationship or a means of interrogation between the text and meaning.

Meaning

Deconstruction is a form of philosophical and literary analysis, derived mainly from work begun in the 1960s by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, that questions the fundamental conceptual distinctions, or “oppositions,” in Western philosophy through a close examination of the language and logic of philosophical and literary texts.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, Deconstruction is a philosophical or critical method that asserts that meanings, metaphysical constructs, and hierarchical oppositions (as between key terms in a philosophical or literary work) are always rendered unstable by their dependence on ultimately arbitrary signifiers.

There have been problems defining deconstruction. Derrida claimed that all of his essays were attempts to define what deconstruction is, and that deconstruction is necessarily complicated to explain since it actively criticizes the very language needed to explain it.

Deconstruction shakes up a context like text in a way that provokes questions about the borders, the frontiers, the edges, or the limits that have been drawn to mark out its place in the history of concepts. Meanings take on their identity; they come to mean what they mean, by just such a marking out of frontiers, opposing concepts to each other, defining terms by their differences. We fail to read a text at all if we jump straight in from nowhere proclaiming our opinions and making rash generalizations. The text is woven from the same system like the one we each inhabit, the system of concepts that allows us to think about the things we do. So the text and any given text demands that we read it first of all in terms of historical and rhetorical conventions that allow us to understand it, and which, by and large, allow us to agree, more or less, on what it means.

Importance of Deconstruction

Deconstruction argues that language, especially ideal concepts such as truth and justice, is irreducibly complex, unstable, or impossible to determine. Many debates in continental philosophy surrounding ontology, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, hermeneutics, and philosophy of language refer to Derrida’s beliefs. Since the 1980s, these beliefs have inspired a range of theoretical enterprises in the humanities, including the disciplines of law, anthropology, historiography, linguistics, sociolinguistics, psychoanalysis, LGBT studies, and feminism. Deconstruction also inspired deconstructivism in architecture and remains important within art, music, and literary criticism

In all the fields it influenced, deconstruction called attention to rhetorical and performative aspects of language use, and it encouraged scholars to consider not only what a text says but also the relationship and potential conflict between what a text says and what it does.

In various disciplines, deconstruction also prompted an exploration of fundamental oppositions and critical terms and a re-examination of ultimate goals. Most generally, deconstruction joined with other strands of post-structural and postmodern thinking to inspire a suspicion of established intellectual categories and skepticism about the possibility of objectivity.

Deconstruction denotes the pursuing of the meaning of a text to the point of exposing the supposed contradictions and internal oppositions upon which it is founded—supposedly showing that those foundations are irreducibly complex, unstable, or impossible. It is an approach that may be deployed in philosophy, literary analysis, and even in the analysis of scientific writings. Deconstruction is like a proofreader: it tells you about texts’ secrets and their real meaning, their errors. Because deconstruction examines the internal logic of any given text or discourse it has helped many authors to analyze the contradictions inherent in all schools of thought; and, as such, it has proved revolutionary in political analysis, particularly ideology critiques.

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