According to Jacques Derrida, structure -- the structure of language, for example -- occupies an impossible and ideal position: it at once posits an absolute center that holdseverything together and a meta-perspective that also holds everything together. For Derrida, then, structure is defined by a double law in which it is at once bound and unbound -- such is the verypossibility (or impossibility) of a structure's existence. Which is to say, a structure can exist only in as much as it undoes itself. For Derrida, this double function is always already at work -- and soPoststructuralism is born.
This double logic, which Derrida calls "différance," (a word which in French blurs the line between speech and writing) operates like an electric current; it is thealternating force which drives language, philosophy, and texts in general. This force stems from the relentless play between a positive and negative node, between the positing and undoing of a thing. Hence,just as an electric current only exists as movement, texts come to exist only from their "différance." Therefore, there is no absolute and stable dictionary that fixes meaning in place. At the origin ofmeaning, Derrida tells us, is play. Hence, when Derrida reads, he seeks the play within a text, the particular ways that a text posits itself and is thereby already outside itself, playing elsewherein unexpected fields, with unexpected texts. This is what he means by Deconstruction.
Derrida and Deconstruction
Heidegger meant by "the end of philosophy" the end of a philosophy rooted inmetaphysics. He argued that the only real philosophical questions have to do with "being" (ontology) and that "transcendental" questions were meaningless. By the sixties, the notion of the "end of philosophy" had developed into the notion that philosophy was nothing other than the ideology of the western ethos. The liberal humanist tradition presented a de facto situation (its own pre-eminence) as a...