Review: Derrida: A Very Short Introduction – by Simon Glendinning

The philosophy of Jacques Derrida keeps cropping up on my reading in Translation Studies. I’m getting a vague idea of deconstruction but really need to tackle the works of the man himself to truly understand his philosophy. I thought I’d try this short introduction as a taster to better familiarise myself with his ideas. I think that Derrida is slightly more complex and difficult to understand than more traditional philosophers. He gathers poles of thought within the philosophical movement. It seems that either you love or hate Derrida. I think the fundamental precept of Deconstruction is to reevaluate one’s ideals, to tear apart more traditional modes of thinking and to analyse a subject from a completely different, new perspective. This introduction left me, at times, feeling as though I was beginning to understand Derrida, yet at other times things went flying over my head and removed what knowledge I thought I had gained. I think the Derrida work on language is more accessible and I look forward to tackling ‘On Grammatology’. His work with words and language seems more logical and accurate and easier to digest than some of the less direct musings on philosophy or the nature of animals. From reading this book I can see why some people could easily dismiss Derrida. His ideas do provoke strong reactions and nowhere more so can this be seen than the reaction to his honorary degree at Cambridge University. think that what is certain about Derrida was that he was a true intellectual, a clever man with original ideas, who wasn’t afraid of ruffling the feathers of the established ways. The twentieth century was an era of vast change and there is no reason why new ways of dissecting the world should not arise. I anticipate building a deeper relationship with Derridean philosophy once I enter into his actual works. This introduction was enlightening in a sense but can be deconstructed into equally maintaining an illusion of confusion about this complicated man.

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