Saturday, January 15, 2011

Derrida and Deconstruction

Derrida and Deconstruction: Founded on ideas of textual description and literary analysis, the deconstructionist philosophy attempts to uncover the basic contradictions and irreconcilable ironies of a text. Developed by French post-structuralist philosopher Jacques Derrida in the 1960s, deconstruction requires an in-depth examination of a text's elementary structure to identify its questionable features. Although a text may appear cohesive and cogent on the surface, it will begin to unravel after applying a deconstructionist framework to its content and organization. Despite deconstruction's novel philosophical underpinnings, its approach to literary analysis is not entirely new, but the emphasis that deconstruction places on analytic rigor is. Critics of deconstruction, however, claim that it is nothing more than intellectual nihilism, because all written works of fiction and nonfiction can be reduced to what are seemingly incompatible parts. In effect, there are no meanings to a text beyond its words, grammar, and structure. Yet if anything, deconstruction teaches writers to be bold with their prose, as it can always be deconstructed for innate contradictions, fallacies, generalizations, ironies, and prejudices.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

On Communal Sacrality

On Communal Sacrality: In Homo Viator (1962), French existentialist philosopher Gabriel Marcel espoused a kind of communal philosophy that specifically pertained to sacrality. As a former atheist who converted to Catholicism around his fortieth birthday, Marcel focused his thoughts on the idea of reciprocity. Central to this idea was the sacred inter-subjectivity (common grace) of all human-to-human relationships. Marcel's communal sacrality, therefore, originated with the reciprocal nature of humanity's common grace. His communal philosophy was also akin to Emmauel Levinas' conception of face-to-face contact whereby individuals became enraptured by the Divine spark evident in each others eyes. But the phenomenological concerns raised in Heideggerian philosophy (Gelassenheit) were diametrically opposed to communal sacrality. In effect, the essence of a community stemmed from a spontaneous amalgamation of people who did not necessarily coalesce through inter-subjectivity. And even though Marcel and Heidegger attended the same academic conferences on occasion, they never openly debated their philosophical qualms.