1.1 INTRODUCTION Jacques Derrida is one of the

1.1 
 INTRODUCTION

 

Jacques Derrida is one
of the most significant and brilliant French philosophers of the twentieth century.
It is not possible today to be a well-educated intellectual without knowing at
least something about Derrida and the way of reading most closely related with
him namely Deconstruction. Since the concept of deconstruction is closely
associate with post-modern thought, it is necessary to have knowledge about
what it is mean by the term ‘postmodern’.

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The term ‘postmodern’
understood as something that distinguishes the contemporary scene from the
modern. Thus the postmodern signals the end of the modernity but it operate
partly In the modern.in other words it postmodern marks  differences within the modern and calls for an
alternative to modern. “Post modernism can be recognized by two key
assumptions. First, the assumption that there is no common denominator- in
‘nature’ or ‘truth’ or ‘God’ or ‘future’ which guarantees either the oneness of
the world or the possibility of neutral or objective thought. Second, the
assumption that all human systems operate like language, being self-reflexive rather
than referential systems. Which means all the systems construct and maintain
meaning and value itself.”1 Most
philosophers use the word ‘postmodernism’ to refer to a movement that developed
in the France in the 1960swhich is also called post structuralism. This
movement denies the possibility of objective knowledge of the real world and
univocal understanding of words and texts. They rejected most of the
fundamental pillars of the modern western thought.  

 

The term
‘Deconstruction’ which is one of the postmodern thought, proceeds largely from
the works of Jacques Deridda. It is the main thread of Derrida’s theory of
knowledge. It is developed in his book, ‘Of Grammatology ‘which was written in
1967. To him the reader is the first bearer of the meaning of a written or a
spoken word. Thus the reader is getting freed from the preconceived ideas of
the author and representations inherent in the text. Deconstruction denotes
whole set of techniques and strategies used by Derrida to destabilize the
‘applied ideals’ in the text. Thus Deconstruction is both theory and practice
and applies most specifically to a mode of reading texts. Deconstruction is a
method that can in theory applied to any sort of discipline or cultural
product. Thus it is a way of looking things from different perspectives.

 

Deconstruction as a mode of
interpretation works by a careful and circumspect entering of each textual
labyrinth. Deconstructive critic tries to find out the thread in the text which
will unravel it all. In other words they seek the loose stone which will pull
down the whole building. It involves subversion of a structure and the
dispersion of closing the meaning. Thus it is really an invitation for
interpretation. “The deconstruction, rather, annihilates the ground on which the
building stands by showing that the text has already annihilated the ground
knowingly or unknowingly. Deconstruction is not a dismantling of the structure
of a text but a demonstration that the text has already dismantled in itself.”2   

 

There is a poem named
‘The Road Not Taken’ which was written by Robert Frost. Here in this poem, the
poet arrives at a place where the road diverged into two the one is commonly
used by everyone and the other is less travelled one. The poet selects the
latter and succeeds. It shows the courage of the poet to move differently and
his attitude of looking things from a different perspective. What we are seeing
in the life of Jesus Christ is the same. Born, live think and died differently.
In the present society majority move in the same way, think in the same
pattern. And see in the single dimension. In such a situation by understanding
and acquiring the method of deconstruction, I hope, I can develop different
perspectives in my outlooks. It is not for the sake of a difference but for the
sake of goodness.

 

Here, in this thesis, I
would like to make a detailed study about Derrida’s concept of Deconstruction.
For the better understanding and detailed presentation of the concept

The entire work is going to be divided
into four chapters: The first chapter deals with introduction which includes
the relevance of the work, Biographical sketch of the Jacques Deridda and the
original context in which the theme deconstruction emerged. The Second chapter
will give a detailed study of the theme deconstruction.in which, we will
discuss the meaning of the deconstruction, influences in the development of the
concept and its impacts on various other disciplines. The third chapter is set
apart for a critical and creative synthesis of the deconstruction in the in the
present social and literary context. 

1.2    LIFE AND WORKS

 

Jacques Derrida was
born on 15th July 1930 in el-biar near algeries in France. It was in
the same place he continued his studies until high school. In 1950 he began the
study of philosophy at Lycee Louis-le-Grandin masille. There he came into
contact with thinkers like Althusse. P.Bourdieu, Michel Foucault and serres. He
wrote his thesis under the guidance of Jean Hyppolite on “the problem of
genesis in Husserl.”  In 1956, he went to
Harvard University in Cambridge in order to consult the unpublished microfilms
of Husserl. In 1957-1959 he began to teach French and English In army school in
algiers.in 1960, he became the teacher at Lycee of Le Mans. Then he started to
teach at Sorbonne University in Paris. It was in the year 1962, He published
his first work translation and introduction to Husserl’s origin of geometry.
After the independence of Algeria his family moved to France in the year 1963.

 

At the age of 37 he published three
major works namely speech and phenomena, writing and difference, and of
grammatology. The main writings of Derrida influenced by three different
intellectual currents of the 20th century. They are phenomenology,
structuralism and psychoanalysis.in the year 1975 he created the GREPH: research
group of public education. After the age of sixty Derrida began to write his
own life. He prepared autobiographical circumfession
in the year1991 in collaboration
with Geoffrey Bennigton. Along with this he wrote memorials of others who have
influenced him namely Paul De Man Roland Barthes, S. Bachelard, P. Ricoeur,
Gilles Deleuze, Micheal Foucault, Jean Francois Lyotard, Emmanuel Levinas,
Jacques Lacan etc. He died of cancer in the year 2004. The main works of Derrida
includes:

 

Ø 
Edmund
Husserl’s Origin of Geometry: An Introduction. (1962)

Ø 
Speech
and phenomena and other essay’s on Husserl’s theory of signs. (1967)

Ø 
Of
Grammatology. (1967)

Ø 
Writing
and Difference. (1967)

Ø 
Dissemination.
(1972)

Ø 
Margins
of Philosophy. (1972)

Ø 
Positions.
(1972)

Ø 
Of
Spirit: Heidegger and the Question (1987)

Ø 
Aporias
(1993)

1.3 BACKGROUND OF THE THEME

 

Postmodern
thoughts were emerged as a reaction to the existing modern thoughts of that
period. In order to understand the postmodern thought deconstruction it is
necessary to have a knowledge of its background that is nothing but modernity. The
term ‘modern’ derived from the Latin ‘modo’, simply means “of today” or what is
current, as distinguishing from earlier times.3
The term modernity encompasses the outcomes of all events from sixteenth
century such as protestant reformation, scientific revolution of Galileo,
political theories that were developed after the revolution in France and United
States and industrial revolution. Politically speaking it refers to major upheavals
that marked the late middle ages such as renaissance, reformation, the
colonization and the formation of the nation- states. From a cultural stand
point, the concept of modernity means a fundamentally new way to structure all
social relation that developed in the west in the late eighteenth and early
nineteenth century. The human relations were governed by the principle of
equality. The individual became scared and disregard all that went beyond his rationality.
The efficiency, utility and productivity became the law of social life. In the
field of religion, modernity became antithetical to religious belief and the
revelation considered as a human invention. God was interpreted as something
that of a human invention. The religion was repressed and privatized. The religious
authorities lost their status.   In philosophically speaking, it was based on
the linking of transcendental subjectivity and empirical objectivity. It is a
method of understanding the truth by way of entering into the depth of reality
than looking its mere surface and appearance. Thus emerged the phenomenology,
psychoanalysis and logical positivism which rejected all knowledge that cannot
be verified logically or empirically.

 

We
can consider modernity as a civilization which was founded on the basis of
scientific and rational knowledge. Thus it is the reason that ruled over
modernity. The main modern thoughts which influenced the Derrida in the
formulation of the concept deconstruction includes Edmund Husserl’s
phenomenology, Ferdinant de Saussure’s structuralism
and Jacques Lacan’s observation on the Freudian psychoanalysis. Thus it is
necessary to have a knowledge about these concepts even before entering into
Derrida’s deconstruction    

1.2.1       
Phenomenology

Husserl Edmund is considered to be
the founder of phenomenology. In the opening years of twentieth century
phenomenology was force to be reckoned with.it is considered to be the reason
for the emergence of many other philosophical movements such as existentialism,
structuralism postmodernism etc. Derrida himself started his publishing career with
a critique of a certain aspects of phenomenology. “Husserl, major founder of
phenomenology, described it as the true positivism, aiming to return ‘to things
themselves’.”4
       Phenomenology is intended the study of
essence. It is also attempts to place the essence back into the existence.it is
a transcendental philosophy interested only in what is ‘left behind’ after
phenomenological reduction is performed. Husserl says much about philosophical
thinking. He distinguishes between natural attitude and phenomenological
attitude. Natural attitude is our straight forward involvement with things and
the world. When we enter the phenomenological attitude we put out of action or
suspend all intentions and convictions of the natural attitude. This does not
mean that we doubt or negate them but only that we take a distance from them
and contemplate their structure. Husserl calls this suspension the
phenomenological ‘epoch.’ In our human life we begin the natural attitude and
the process in which we move to the phenomenological attitude is called
phenomenological reduction. It is a process of leading back from the natural
beliefs to the reflective consideration of the intentions and their objectives.
In the phenomenological attitude we look at the intentions those that function
anonymously in our straight forward involvement with the world.

 

1.2.2       
Structuralism

Structuralism has its origins in
the work of Swiss linguist Ferdinant de Saussure (1857-1913). He had lectures
in at the University of Geneva. Based on those lectures he published a book
called ‘courses in general linguistics’. It provided structuralism’s basic
methodological insights. It was Russian – born Ranan jackobson first used the
term structuralism. “In the structuralist view what had been called a literary
“work” becomes a text; that is,a mode of writing constituted by a play of
internal elements according to literary conventions and codes.”5    It is difficult to describe structuralism as
a movement, because of the methodological constraints exercises by the various
disciplines that came to be influenced by structuralism such as anthropology,
philosophy, political theory and even mathematics. Arguing against the
prevailing historical and philosophical approach to linguistics, He proposed a
scientific model of language- closed system of elements and rules that accounts
for the production and social communication of the meaning. Saussure viewed
language as the repository of discursive signs shared by a given linguistic
community. The particular sign is composed of two elements, a distinctive sound
element and corresponding meaning. The defining relation between the signs and
meaning components is based on conventional association and not due to any
function of speaking subject’s personal inclination. Structuralism emerged in
France in the late 1950s as a response to the existentialist emphasize on subjectivity
and individual autonomy by French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss. Structuralism
replaced the author with the reader as the central agency. But the traditional
reader, as a conscious, purposeful and feeling individual replaced by an
impersonal activity of reading. What is read is not the work imbued with
meanings but writing. Thus the focus of structuralism is not the on the
sensibility of the reader but on the impersonal process of reading by taking
into consideration the conventions, codes, sequences of words and phrases which
constitutes a text.

 

1.2.3       
Psychoanalysis

   The
contributions of Jacques Lacan in the area of psychoanalysis had a great
influence on the works of Derrida. Lacan’s works   derive
from his consistent and thoroughgoing interpretation of Freud’s writing in the
light of Heidegger, Hegel as well as structuralist linguistics. Lacan’s theory
of mirror stage is his first contribution in the field of psychoanalysis. According
to Lacan ego is an effect of an identification with an image that represents an
ideal of unity and completeness and that is not the ego itself. The ego is thus
characterised by an alienation that cannot be undone.6 Lacan
proposed Freudianism in which any traces of the substantial Cartesian self are
replaced by a system of symbolic function.Contrary to standard views , the ego
is a imaginery projection, not our accees to the real7

 

 

The term
‘postmodern’ understood as distinguishing the contemporary scene from the
modern. The term was first used in 1917 by the German philosopher Rudolf
pannwitz to describe the ‘nihilism’ which was written in the book of Friedrich
Nietzche. It appeared again in the work of the Spanish literary critic Federico
de Onis in 1934 to refer to the backlash against literary modernism. It was
understood in two different ways in English in 1939. Theologian  Bernard Iddings bell used it to mean the
recognition of the failure of secular modernism and a return to religion.
Historian Arnold Toynbee used the same to mean the post- World War I rise of
mass society in which the working class surpasses the capitalist class. Then it
appeared in the literary criticism in 1950s and 1960s. In philosophy it came to
refer primarily to French poststructuralist philosophy, and secondarily to a
general reaction against modern rationalism, utopianism and foundationalism.
Thus it is very clear that the same term postmodern is used to designate the
different events happened in various ages in history such as: the breakdown of
modern art and architecture; change of rules and norms of writing in the
literature; collapse of meta-narratives like Marxism, Rationalim,Secularism and
Nominalism; disqualification of rationality; loss of confidence in scientific
knowledge;advent of pluralism and finally eco-centrism.

            Jacqes Derrida, one of the post modern thinker comes in
the stream of this period. The concept deconstruction as a product of post
modern thinking emerged in this background. 

1
E. Craig, “postmodernism,”  Rout ledge Encyclopaedia of philosophy, 587

2  J. Wolfreys, Deconstruction. Derrida  (New
York: Macmillan publishers, 1998) 12

3  L. Cahoone, From Modernism to Postmodernism (Oxford: Blackwell publishers, 1996)
11.

4 C. Howells, Derrida
(Oxford:
Blackwell publishers, 1998) 7.

5
M.H Abrams – G.G
Harpham, A Glossary of Literary Terms (Delhi:
Cenage Learning, 2015) 381.

6 Encyclopedia
of philosophy, Donald M. Borchert. Vol.5,

7 The camgridge dictionary of philosophy Robert audicambridge press
1995480