Writing Before the Letter: Jacques Derrida and Deconstruction

Writing Before the Letter: Jacques Derrida and Deconstruction

Writing Before the Letter: Jacques Derrida and Deconstruction
— Read on iambobbyy.com/2019/02/03/writing-before-the-letter-jacques-derrida-and-deconstruction/

I am always curious of philosophical bloggers who post an essay but then do not except comments.

I suppose my curiosity is piqued more when I have something to say about it. For example this essay.

I am also curious about certain authors, which then goes to inform comments I would make on essays that propose to be talking about or explaining what the author philosophy is.

in particular, there is Jaques Derrida. and then there is all the people who like to make comments or like to use his philosophy in someway.

my curiosity which forms a comment on the essay that I linked to in this blog post goes like this:

has anyone ever considered how Derrida would be able to know what he is knowing to thereby have his ideas?

I mean, has anyone who has read him pondered how it is possible that he could know such a thing?

and in reference to the essay, I am particularly asking how anyone would be able to pose truthfully A philosophy which says that everyone’s appropriation of text is ultimately subjective? that everyone has has or comes to their own idea about what the text is, and that this idea is pretty much excluded from everyone else’s idea.
How could Jaques Derrida possibly know this?

has any large brand thinker in the past 50 years contemplated how he could know such a thing?

or has everyone just kind of taking it on faith that he has some sort of intellectual prophet?

Perhaps anyone who might read this post might instead of only liking it leave me a comment which asked.

but if you don’t want to, that’s fine too you can just give me a like it’ll make me feel good.






14 responses to “Writing Before the Letter: Jacques Derrida and Deconstruction”

  1. landzek Avatar

    I don’t think Miellassoux gives us a very good answer for his problem either. 🤘🏾. But I think Graham Harman does. And I think I do. 😜


  2. iambobbyy Avatar

    Hello, thanks for your insight and sharing / talking about my post! I don’t enable my comments because I usually don’t have time to respond (sometimes, I am too lazy; other times, it is because I am either really active or inactive on my blog). And whenever I do respond, I am usually very thorough, so it takes a lot of time. If you do have comments, you can always email me and I would be happy to discuss Derrida with you. Although I have closely studied Derrida for quite some time, I don’t know everything about him.

    In regards to some of your other concerns:

    First, I would like to point out that, I think any who uses Derrida’s “philosophy” is kind of missing Derrida’s point (I am not saying that you are). This is because deconstruction isn’t really a “philosophy” with any reproducible method, fixed steps or ways of thinking that you must follow every time you read a book. Derrida’s concerns are about interpretation and how it is influenced by the reader’s intentionality / temporality / history, etc. which are unique to each individual. I didn’t do the best job in my post when I transitioned from Saussure’s Signifier / Signified, to Husserl’s Indication / Expression (I also completely skipped out on explaining Husserl’s “intentionality”). The two disciplines are very different, especially once you consider Husserl’s phenomenological reduction.

    Second, I don’t think our interpretation of a text is completely “subjective”, so to speak (I am not exactly sure what you mean here). In my humble opinion, what Derrida is trying to get at is how our interpretation of a text provides us with a truth that is nevertheless a Truth; but this Truth is never identical to the Truth that the original author intended—including my readings / commentary on Derrida (it is never completely identical due to temporality, etc.). Many people seem to think that the fact we can produce infinite interpretations to a text is a problem, even when I personally think it isn’t necessarily one (hence, I placed “problem” in quotations in my post). It is not a problem because Derrida also draws heavily on Heidegger’s ideas on Dasein and hermeneutics (; and his stance on history and metaphysics). For example, in Derrida’s lectures, he points out that Dasein (Being-there) has its methodological roots in the German word “Auslegung”, which translates into “interpretation” in English. Another words, we can very vaguely say that “to be is to interpret” (so to speak).

    Third, “how could Derrida possibly know that everybody’s idea is different to everyone else’s idea?” is a good question. I think in a classic post-Kantian sense, you can’t—at least not completely. But some contemporary continental philosophies are trying to detach from Kant these days—so who knows? (i.e. Speculative Realism / Materialism; Object Oriented Ontology). This is why I pointed out that even Derrida’s interpretation of all these famous philosopher’s works are not “accurate” (though he might be close). Hence, Derrida “intentionally” makes up ideas like “Trace”, “Differance”, “Deconstruction”, etc. as he reads their work, which are actually just aporias. And in turn, we as readers are constructing these aporias with our own intentions as some form of “metaphysical” concept when we interpret him (i.e. my commentary on him). I think you can really see this in Derrida’s readings on Husserl, especially “Speech and Phenomena” and his less popular, but very important book, “The Origins of Geometry”.

    There are several contemporary scholars who “understands” Derrida very well. The most well known is probably Geoffrey Bennington, who regularly gives lectures on Derrida (he was a student of Derrida, and currently a translator of his works), you can find some of them on Youtube.

    Anyways, I must now depart and get my beauty sleep.



    1. landzek Avatar

      Thx for responding.

      For sure i am curious why people don’t allow comments; I am only lightly accusing and mostly am actually curious. One professor is popular so I’m sure he doesn’t want to have to field rebuttals and questions. Two other professors are actually more open and actually will respond through comments. And there a few people I know who don’t allow comments Becuase They simply think they are above people.

      So thank you.

      My question about Ds ability to know such a thing has to do with my answer (of course! 😆)

      But I am often more interested in others answer to this see if I might have missed something.

      And of course. D’s exposition must address every angle of the situation, but in commenting and addressing him, especially on a blog, I dont think it necessary to have to cover all our bases. We speak to a particular point at all times.

      On a different note (!). Perhaps I might entice you to let me send you a pdf of my book a just published. It is an easy read. And you might actually enjoy it.

      Of course. If you wanted an actually copy, I purposefully make it cheap. And I make only a few cents. I have links if you like a hard copy.

      But I would love you feed back either way.
      It appears to me it might address somethings you will appreciate.


    2. landzek Avatar

      …a more specific sense answer to my question: he is able to see that no one around him is understanding what he has to say. He is able to understand specifically that there are those who indeed will know and that for himself he does know that there is understanding, but most people he encounters are simply misinterpreting what he is saying no matter how detailed he gets about it.

      The problem I see is thus that he is speaking to what must be the case given that most every one is not understanding him. But I say, that due to the fact that, for example, I understand him, he was incorrect in his appraisal. It is not that his descriptions are incorrect but how he was viewing his presence in the world. There is a multitude of interpretations only under certain conditions (to bring in Zizek).


      1. iambobbyy Avatar

        You’re welcome. And yes, I would love to read your book. Though I might be very slow at getting back to you because I read like, 10 books at once. You can contact me through my contact page. If you cannot send files, just send me something random and I will respond, so you can get my email.

        In regards to your question / answer. I think Derrida never expected anyone to “completely” understand him—even if Derrida saw how some people’s understanding of him appears to be very close to his intentions (or someone who claims to understand him). When I spoke about “origin-heterogenous”, I tried to show how the “origin” of the reader’s thoughts (yours) is not only experiencing the movement of trace (which unites the division between retention and protention), but it is also an “origin” that is separated from Derrida’s (author’s) “origin” since the “text” functions as an “object in-itself”.

        Another words, to “understand” that there is never a “complete understanding”, we have to look at Kant’s philosophy on intuition and spacetime, and how we can never know the object in-itself. This is crucial because virtually every post-Kantian “continental” philosopher uses Kant’s thoughts in one way or another (maybe except for 19th century existentialists like Kierkegaard and Nietzsche). If you recall on one of my crappy diagrams, I drew a box around “text” and pointed out that it is the object in-itself. Basically, for Kant, we can only make “derivatives” out of this in-itself, like how a scientist makes a derivative interpretation that water in-itself is “h2O” when we magnify it, etc.; but we can never completely know anything in-itself since we are not water molecules, but a conscious finite subject observing the temporal object as such (here, we are entering the territory of phenomenology and the limits of epistemology). Thus, we can never completely understand any “text” in-itself since this text (speech / writing) is what prohibits the transmission of Husserlian-phenomenological “intentionality” from author to reader. Then there is also the problem of inter-subjectivity where I am never your consciousness and you are never mine.

        On the other hand, Zizek comes from a Marxist, Hegelian and Lacanian background. While there are significant differences between Hegel and Kant in relationship to how we conceive of this “in-itself”. At heart, Hegel’s thoughts are influenced by Kant’s, such as the Hegelian subject who attempts to understand the in-itself through what Hegel calls the “negation” of the object, and “sublation” (or “negation of the negation”), which allows the subject to eventually reach an idealism of the object. Furthermore, Zizek is also influenced by Alain Badiou who is also a Lacanian and a Marxist. Badiou is the teacher of Quentin Meillassoux, who currently belongs to Speculative Realism movement and argues for us to think beyond “correlationalism” (i.e. Kantian / post-Kantian thought). While both Zizek and Badiou are influenced by Lacan, both of their thoughts deviate from “traditional” Lacanian psychoanalysis.

        What I am trying to get at is that, Derrida and Zizek’s thoughts are very different (but they do have similarities) since they take different interpretations / approaches to Kant, Hegel and their subsequent philosophers (Derrida leans towards Husserl / Heidegger / Nietzsche; Zizek as Marx / Lacan). Ultimately, to “understand” Derrida, we have to understand the problems that Kant proposed, which influenced Hegel and Schelling; who went on to influence Husserl and Heidegger (who was also influenced by Nietzsche). We also have to understand Rousseau, Saussure, Blanchot, Warburton, and a bunch of other thinkers / writers.

        Unfortunately, many people who reads Derrida only knows how to complain about his prose and not put any effort to understand the “history” that Derrida is coming from. After all, Hegel once famously said, to study philosophy is to study the history of philosophy.


      2. landzek Avatar

        I will be interested in what you make of my book.

        FYI: This is the First Part, btw. I have taken the whole book, which is some 500+ pgs. Standard academic 12pt single space 8×10. And this First Part is 114 pgs in 5x 7. 10pt. Pocketbook Format. Bite size. 😄.

        I’m looking over into your site to find you contact info….

        Liked by 1 person

      3. landzek Avatar

        Hi. Btw:

        A friend pointed out to me an error that I feel needs be corrected, enough to make the effort to tell you the correction.

        On Pg 15. In the middle of the page should read: “Most simply do not have the pleasure of understanding their involvement with communication”.

        Hopefully there are not more errors like that which throws off meaning.

        I guess I’ll find out.


  3. wtquinn Avatar


    Jordan Peterson – Can you interpret the world an infinite number of ways?


    1. landzek Avatar

      I am not understanding the link between your two comments.

      While I agree with Peterson’s little bit here, I don’t agree with how he gets there really.

      Peterson is an either or congregant of the religious reality. It doesn’t make him wrong though, just arguing out his ass, making assertions upon that which he has no power over. In fact he is an example of what his method of argument proposes: it is not that the pM is wrong, it is that he is unable to see how indeed he functions through its paradigm: it is offensive to his religious sensibility.
      And yet: due to the fact that he is unable to see his complexity with PM, it simply means that it is thus not operative for him. It is this contradiction that he misses, that I think Graham Harman and Slavoj Zizek have a unmistaken grasp upon. Peterson is like a lettered parrot to me ears. 😆 aarrhhh!

      I’m not sure how your two replies come together.

      And : did I or did I not ask you if you are interested in reading my book The Philosophical Hack ? I can’t remember. I


      1. wtquinn Avatar

        The 2 replies don’t come together. They stand alone independently.

        Regarding Peterson, he represents the paradox of which he speaks. Modernist vs. PoMo mindset difference. He has said on more than one occasion that the PoMo’s have “got it right”, that texts are open to an infinite number of interpretations dependent on the subjectivity of the readers experience. However that they are NOT open to an infinite number of VIABLE interpretations. His example that if the reader reads Shakespeare and is compelled to jump off a bridge, that is not a viable interpretation. It does not lead to a positive outcome for succeeding in the world. PoMo as negation, alienation, anxiety – suicide. Very clear. I don’t hear the parrots. That’s the paradox. They have it right and wrong at same time.

        The for and against camps operate on polar opposite wavelength receivers. One wavelength is receptive to simplicity and clarity and answers to questions regarding higher objective values. The other is receptive to obscurantism and never progressing to an answer, because an answer would be deemed reductionist in a world of relative transvaluation of all values/no foundational truths – although an objective answer might lead one out of the psychological labyrinth of alienation and resentment.

        The offer to read your book is appreciated. I don’t have much available bandwidth so that will be a possible future consideration.


      2. landzek Avatar

        Hm. Perhaps that’s why I agree with him and yet don’t agree with him. Lol

        I’ve only watches a few of his opinions and talks. But I think he is missing something vital. Something central.

        But viable. That’s a good way of putting it. Perhaps I have been a little too presumptuous on him. But the way he describes PM. To me feels off. Like he missing that main feature of it.

        My book is a pretty easy read. It’s not academically rigorous. But I think it is philosophically significant.


      3. landzek Avatar

        Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to expand past my biases with Perterson. 🤙🏾


    2. landzek Avatar

      …oh. My point about my comment if Derrida is: what does it mean that he indeed is able to see it?

      Indeed; I cannot possibly know what I’m thinking or how I am interpreting text, and in fact, if I am to read him correctly then i am inevitably lead to insist that he is totally incorrect by virtue of the fact that I know I understand exactly what he is saying.



  4. wtquinn Avatar

    He did not “create” the idea. He either discovered it, or it was revealed to him. Using infinite regress, going backward in time conceptually using a priori abstraction, before there ever was a footnoted source to cite, ideas pre-existed, uncreated like archetypal forms and numbers. Therefore all knowing is a form of remembrance – anamnesis.


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