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LiLian's avatar

What do you think of ''deconstruction'' approach?

Asked by LiLian (115points) May 1st, 2010

Deconstruction is an approach, introduced by French philosopher Jacques Derrida.Derrida says that all systems or structures are created of binary pairs or oppositions,of two terms placed in some sort of relation to each.within these systems one part of that binary pair is always more important than the other,that one term is ’‘marked’’ as positive and the other as negative.

for example:the binary pair ’‘good/evil’’,good is what we values and evil is subordinated to good.Derrida argues that all binary pairs work this way…light/dark,masculine/feminine,right/left.the first term is always valued over the second.

can we apply this approach to all the oppositions in life? is it a matter of perspective? like not always ’‘the right’’ is valued or more important than ’‘the left’’.in practical situations in life,if you are lost n then you have to take the ’‘left ’‘path,in that case ’‘right’’ is not always important or is it thought to be more ’‘valued’’? what do you think of this approach?

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18 Answers

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

This sounds like you thought about it. :) I like to think that the universe comes in pairs or is balanced. I try to apply this in my life. Helps me make sense of things.

LiLian's avatar

yeah i agree it helps to make sense of things bcoz u can’t understand the meaning of ’‘beauty’’ for example unless u have the idea of its opposition in ur mind which is ’‘ugliness’’ but i think we can’t apply this approach in life bcoz not always the second term is important.what about ’‘right-handed ppl’’ n ’‘left-handed’’ ones?who is more important than the other? according to this approach,the right is more important!!!!

Fyrius's avatar

Deconstruction works for analysing what other people have written, and you could probably also use it to better understand your own mind. But as an approach to the world, it’s as misguided as any other kind of projection.
Things in the universe don’t really come in binary oppositions. We just tend to perceive a lot of things that way. It’s a human sorting system, a way for us to simplify the universe and make it easier to understand.
It’s part of the legend on our map of reality. But it’s not part of reality itself.

Notice also how when you say deconstruction would say the right is better than the left because it’s the first term, you are just assuming that right is the first term. Why would it be? Why wouldn’t left be the first term?
This question is easy to answer for literary criticism – X is the first term and Y is the second because the author thinks X is better than Y. That makes sense.
But the universe is objective. Only humans judge.

absalom's avatar

I love me some Derrida but I don’t love me some binarism. Too Manichaean.

talljasperman's avatar

Both sides of the same coin

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

It seems valid to me from the standpoint of an engineer; “take it apart and see how it works”. When you strip anything down far enough, things resolve into yes/no, 1/0, etc. Just a matter of “deconstructing” far enough.

Jeruba's avatar

My homework radar is buzzing. I notice that the question is written like an essay assignment and the comment post is written in textspeak.

LiLian's avatar

@fyrius i don’t assume that ’‘right’’ is the first term but it’s the first bcoz we simply values it like good and Evil why evil didn’t come first? becoz we we mark ’‘good’’ as positive,that’s why it comes first.

@stranger_in_a_strange_land yeah i agree

@Jeruba your radar failed you this time LOL
I’ve just read about this philosopher and his well-known theory or approach ’‘deconstruction’’ and i’m so interested in it,that’s all.

Fyrius's avatar

I would weep for the school kids whose teachers make them consider adopting deconstruction as a way of looking at the real world.
As I explained, that would be projection, but you can’t expect school kids to figure that out on their own. Confusing the map with the territory is a logical pitfall that adults unwittingly fall into time and again, and either get stuck in for the rest of their lives or have to put a great effort into getting out of.
Some of history’s greatest philosophers have made the same mistake.

Well, yes. Like I said, it depends on human judgement. Right isn’t superior to left because of anything in the real world.

Think about this, too: whether something is left or right changes around when you turn 180 degrees. So if you’re lost and you come to a fork in the road, and deconstruction would say you should go right, that means that if you’re walking backwards you should go in the other direction, because then that would be on the right.
How does that make sense? Does walking backwards change the roads so that now path 1 leads home and path 2 leads further into the wilderness?


downtide's avatar

It’s human nature to see patters in things. Whether those patterns really exist or not, we tend to look for pairs, patterns and sequences, and even when they’re not really there, we imagine them. And once you do find a pattern, then your judgement of whether it’s positive or negative is based on your own subjective experience.

For instance we think of the light/dark polarity, and we consider light to be good and dark to be bad. Now suppose that you belonged to a nocturnal species. Then you would consider dark to be positive and light to be negative.

Here’s another one: Sunny/Rainy. Now I live in the wettest part of England where we have far more miserable rainy days than we have hot sunny ones. So for me, Sunny is positive while Rainy is negative. Not so for people who live in, say, Saharan Africa, where rain is precious and drought is commonplace. For those people, rain is positive and sun is negative.

Also I don’t believe that everything has an opposite. I would be hard-pressed to find an opposite to “tree” for instance. Or an opposite to myself.

Some things have traditional “opposites” that actually make very little logical sense. For instance we tend to think of the opposite of “walk” to be “run”. But why? Okay, it’s faster but why does that make it opposite? Why not “hop” (move on one leg instead of two) or “crawl” (move on four limbs instead of two) or “walk really, really slowly” (move at half the speed)?

Fyrius's avatar

Well said.

“I would be hard-pressed to find an opposite to “tree” for instance.”
An identical tree, made of anti-matter. :P

OneMoreMinute's avatar

@downtide I want to give you some sort of standing ovation for bringing that out for others to see so easily and clearly now.GA
I’ve been stewing about how the religious worlds have been overusing the term Dark in the same arena as bad and evil.
And why the Female polarity is still connected with dark when dark is connected to evil and bad.
Why is this ignorant misuse of the word still being practiced today?
Can we PLEASE burn this archaic definition at the stake!

thank you
oh, and can you tell, I’m female!!! but even if I were male, I’d be just as bugged

downtide's avatar

@OneMoreMinute Thank you :) And yes, that female=dark thing bugs me too (and I’m not even female).

Jeruba's avatar

Well, @LiLian, I’m not immune to false alarms. Textspeak is frowned upon (=strongly discouraged) on fluther, and the difference in style was remarkable. I formed a hypothesis based on observation, but did not draw a conclusion in case there was another explanation of the facts as presented.

@Fyrius, I didn’t make any assumptions about school kids or teachers forcing. At the college level, the students are not children and can be expected to handle some complex ideas. The OP could even be a graduate student. This is a user whose age and educational status we don’t know and whose experience level on fluther is low despite joining more than a year ago, so we have no history together.

A philosophy teacher might well ask students to consider a view of the world from the point of view of various philosophers under study. For example, in studying Kant, the students might go through the exercise of trying to apply the Categorical Imperative in ambiguous situations (just as Sartre did in his example of the young soldier) as a way of exploring the concept, without any additional charge to “consider adopting” that approach in their own lives. Philosophers build upon one another’s thought in part by examining their predecessors’ work critically and writing rebuttals. This could have been such an exercise, and in fact that’s what I thought it was. Not a lot of people read Derrida for entertainment.

Fyrius's avatar

“I formed a hypothesis based on observation, but did not draw a conclusion in case there was another explanation of the facts as presented.”
Isn’t a hypothesis a sort of tentative conclusion?

I didn’t mean to say it couldn’t possibly have been homework. What I was trying to say was that I’d be rather disturbed if it were.
Deconstruction is a school of art criticism. It’s not a way of looking at the real world. Derrida didn’t intend it to be so, and even if you disregard his intentions lol irony it’s not tenable as such. And no teacher should present it as if it were.

Jeruba's avatar

Isn’t a hypothesis a sort of tentative conclusion? Not at all! Or not necessarily; you could certainly state your tentative conclusion as a hypothesis, but being stated as a hypothesis does not make it a tentative conclusion. Given a set of facts, you may be able to form a number of hypotheses. Not until you’ve tested them—and possibly added facts—can you be drawing a conclusion. You might even test a hypothesis that’s the opposite of your most plausible conjecture just in order to rule it out. I regard a statement of hypothesis as noncommittal and open to exploration.

Fyrius's avatar

Mmmokay, fair enough.

LiLian's avatar

@Fyrius yeah i totally agree with you and we can’t apply this theory in real life.what Derrida says is that all the western thinking is metaphysical thinking based on binary oppositions like man versus woman,truth versus lie and from this binary,it is clear that the first term is superior than the second.while the second is fragile and bad.

what i wanted to know is it a matter of perspective and it seems to be so because everyone sees it in a different way.

@Jeruba yeah i know about that and they told me!
the difference of style is remarkable because first i write the first part form an essay and second I’m not native speaker by the way.
wow really like your diplomatic way thumbs up

@downtide yeah totally agree with you ,again it’s a matter of perspective.

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