Friday, February 22, 2008

Textual Deconstruction

Another aspect of postmodern philosophy that faces the fatal logical problem of self-refutation is textual deconstruction. This is an idea that comes originally from Jacques Derrida (1930-2004). According to his theory, meaning is not determined by the text itself but comes only as the reader interacts with the text. The text has no inherent meaning, and no single meaning. In fact, the text has as many different valid interpretations as there are readers of it.

The problem is that Derrida put his theory into writing (as do most of those who have followed him). But Derrida (like all authors) had a clear intent in writing down his theory. He wanted to convey a particular meaning to each and every one of his readers, and he likely wrote as clearly and persuasively as he could in order to convey that meaning. And yet the message he sought to convey was that any meaning an author intends is inconsequential, that whatever the reader chooses to interpret from a text is what matters.

So Derrida was in the self-contradictory position of hoping that his readers would in this one instance suspend their belief in textual deconstruction long enough to apprehend his meaning and accept his theory of textual deconstruction.

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