AskDefine | Define deconstruct

Dictionary Definition

deconstruct v : interpret (a text or an artwork) by the method of deconstructing

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. In the context of "often metaphorical": to break something down into its component parts


Extensive Definition

''For the approach to post-modern architecture, see Deconstructivism; for other uses, see Deconstruction (disambiguation)
Deconstruction is a term in contemporary philosophy, literary criticism, and the social sciences, denoting a process by which the texts and languages of Western philosophy (in particular) appear to shift and complicate in meaning when read in light of the assumptions and absences they reveal within themselves. Jacques Derrida coined the term in the 1960s, and proved more forthcoming with negative, rather than pined-for positive, analyses of the school.
Subjects relevant to deconstruction include the philosophy of meaning in Western thought, and the ways that meaning is constructed by Western writers, texts, and readers and understood by readers. Though Derrida himself denied deconstruction was a method or school of philosophy, or indeed anything outside of reading the text itself, the term has been used by others to describe Derrida's particular methods of textual criticism, which involved discovering, recognizing, and understanding the underlying—and unspoken and implicit—assumptions, ideas, and frameworks that form the basis for thought and belief, for example, in complicating the ordinary division made between nature and culture. Derrida's deconstruction was drawn mainly from the work of Heidegger and his notion of Destruktion but also from Levinas and his ideas upon the Other.

Development of Derrida's Deconstruction in Relation to Husserl's Philosophy

Husserl is one of the major influences on the development of Derrida's thought and Husserl is both mentor and foil to the development of deconstruction. In Derrida's first published paper titled "'Genesis and Structure' and Phenomenology"(1959) Derrida describes "two polemics which placed him [Husserl] in opposition to those philosophies of structure called Diltheyism and Gestaltism". These two polemics by Husserl are forerunners of Derrida's own deconstruction. Derrida notes admiringly that Husserl
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