The Philosopher-Son

The European Legacy 12 (4):409-418 (2007)
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Many elements of Derrida's “psychoanalytic” philosophy support the view that for most of his career he remained a philosopher-son: the disruptive attitude toward a systematic style, the tendency to exaggerate, the fervor—so like that of Heidegger, Freud, and especially Nietzsche—with which he repeatedly stages confrontations with his father-masters. However, Derrida never claimed, with the postmoderns, that every kind of reality is socially and historically constructed. His “mistake” is rather to have confused ideal objects, such as geometrical shapes and theorems, with social objects, such as promises, contracts, and bills; for ideal objects do not depend on their embeddedness in a trace-structure as contracts and marriages undoubtedly do. The “Husserlian” theme of the centrality of writing becomes a powerful tool when applied to social reality: inscriptions are the ground of an enormous ontology that everywhere surrounds us. Derrida's achievement resides in his denunciation of the unconscious denigration of this ground and in his having foreseen the coming of our present “era of writing.”



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Maurizio Ferraris
Università degli Studi di Torino

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