Ingraffia and Influences

Rereading the chapter on Derrida in Brian Ingraffia’s Postmodern Theory and Biblical Theology (Cambridge, 1995), I realize just how much my understanding of Derrida was formed by reading this book several years ago. Ingraffia highlights (as I have done in a previous post, erroneously thinking . . . . Continue Reading »

Smith on Derrida

James Smith’s conclusions regarding Derrida express more clearly than I’ve been able to do my own sense of Derrida. These are scattered quotations from The Fall of Interpretation , pp. 127-129: “Derrida is honest about not challenging for a moment Rousseau’s and . . . . Continue Reading »

Another Benefit of Derrida: Because

Another benefit of Derrida: Because he puts philosophical issues in mythological and metaphorical terms, he moves philosophy into the field of theology. As I’ve pointed out in a number of posts, Derrida (following Plato) speaks of the relationship between speaker and speech (or sometimes . . . . Continue Reading »


Well, here’s an interesting coincidence (pointed to by Derrida, still in “Plato’s Pharmacy”): Derrida is discussing the ritual of the pharmakos , which he is connecting to Plato’s various uses of pharmak - words in discussions of knowledge, language, and other issues. . . . . Continue Reading »

Why is Derrida Fun?

What is it that makes Derrida so stimulating and fun to read? At least for his treatment of standard philosophical works (I’m reading “Plato’s Pharmacy” in Disseminations ), I think it’s mainly that he shows that philosophy is not about what undergraduate courses in . . . . Continue Reading »

Derrida on Plato on Writing

Derrida on Plato on writing says “In order for these contrary values (good/evil, true/false, essence/appearance, inside/outside, etc.) to be in opposition, each of the terms must be simply EXTERNAL to the other, which means that one of these oppositions (the opposition between inside and . . . . Continue Reading »


Babel has become a key image for postmodern Western thought. A number of years ago, Princeton’s Jeffrey Stout wrote Ethics After Babel , reacting to the Babelic move of some moral philosophers (such as MacIntyre and Hauerwas), who pointed to the difficulties of translation and even . . . . Continue Reading »

More Derrida

From Derrida, still talking about the analogy of father-son and origin-speech: the father is not the generator or procreator in any “real” sense prior to or outside all relation to language. In what way, indeed, is the father/son relation distinguishable from a mere cause/effect or . . . . Continue Reading »

Derrida, Hesiod, Fathers, and Sons

Back to thinking about Derrida, Hesiod, fathers, and sons. If the origin of speech is, as Derrida says, the “father” of the discourse, then the opposing myths of father-son (i.e., Hesiod and the gospel) are also opposing theories of signification and language. Derrida is of . . . . Continue Reading »

Milbank on Derrida

Here’s a summary of part of Milbank’s critique of Derrida (from Theology and Social Theory , pp. 307-311). Derrida attacks Western metaphysics by focusing on the attempt to separate a “meaning” out from the “play of signs.” In most Western systems, this meaning . . . . Continue Reading »