Subverting Institutions: Derrida and Zhuangzi on the Power of Institutions

Journal of World Philosophies 4 (1):102-120 (2019)
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This paper shows how both Jacques Derrida and Zhuangzi use their respective ways of subverting philosophical systems, by and large through language systems, to arrive at an subversion of political power or political systems or institutions. Political institutions are presented as including more general institutions such as the media, press, and academic and other kinds of institutions that influence the way our societies function, the way we live, work, and think. The paper first highlights the similarities and differences in the application of subversive techniques in Derrida and Zhuangzi as they battle against their respective opponents. After that it shows how their subversion of philosophical systems and language flows over into the subversion of political systems. The hope or goal of subversion or critique is often understood to be not only overthrowing the old system, but replacing it with a better one, even when the change or overthrow comes from within the system itself. But this paper aims to show that both Derrida and Zhuangzi, although in very different contexts, also seem to subvert that hope, and that they may or may not offer some kind of way out of this conundrum.



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Steven Burik
Singapore Management University

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Philosophy of change and the deconstruction of self in the zhuangzi.Youru Wang - 2000 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 27 (3):345–360.

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