Derrida Wars Again

In a recent blog post, Graham Harman claims that the problem with Derrida is that he prevaricates too much, that he doesn’t take a stance. Therefore, in his discussion of the his books, Derrida questions the notion of the book. Harman writes:

There is an inherent problem with this compulsive unwillingness to stand anywhere in particular even while insisting that purported gullible dupes such as the person who was kind enough to interview Derrida are the very incarnation of naiveté for daring to use such credulous words as “book.”

I’m the first, in my irritatingly English empiricist manner, to hate on someone for their “flowery” prose style. But isn’t this sort of thing what philosophy is? Seems to me that questioning the meaning of words beyond a naive reception is the beginning of all philosophical reflection. Indeed Derrida’s statement not only seems intelligible to me (it seems a live question as to how can we talk of books as individuals when they are part of this huge canon), but is a provocative and interesting thought, which is to say, a philosophical thought…

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7 Responses to “Derrida Wars Again”

  1. Utisz Says:

    Careful, you’ll bring Jon Cogburn out in hives again.

  2. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Historically, philosophy has had both critical and speculative modes. It’s hard to deny that Derrida is primarily on the critical side. What I wonder is whether Harman’s critique amounts to anything more than “Derrida does more critical philosophy and less speculative philosophy than I think is optimal” — dressed up in moralizing language (“he won’t take a stand!!!“) for rhetorical effect.

    The very notion that we have to “defend” Derrida against someone most famous for starting a blog-based philosophical movement is strange to me.

  3. Alex Says:

    What I wonder is: could there be a decent OOO critique of Derrida’s metaphysics? So far there has just been rhetoric and from Tim some stuff which seems to me to be objecting to the atheism bit of Martin Hagglund’s project – for me, in a way, the least important bit of what he is trying to do.

  4. Adam Kotsko Says:

    He’s correlationist because he uses metaphors from human activity! Or something. Such “critiques” are not promising. (And I don’t even want to think about how nonsensical Morton’s critiques of Hagglund were.)

    It’s understandable to want to do philosophy in a style different from Derrida. I don’t particularly want to follow in Derrida’s footsteps. Yet it seems like that ship has sailed — I’m pretty sure most of the younger continental philosophers are on board with a return to metaphysics and find Badiou’s clear positions “refreshing,” etc. Perhaps such rhetoric is primarily a tool to try to bring such people into the OOO orbit.

  5. Kampen Says:

    I always found Derrida’s so-called evasiveness pretty intriguing and suspected that it was the result of a particular philosophical method. I find his kind of “unwillingness to stand anywhere in particular” almost nomadic in character – something I am interested in.

  6. Evgeni V. Pavlov Says:

    I would like to declare that I am not any of the commenters above – just in case there is any suspicion that I am posting as “Adam Kotsko” or “Alex” or some other pseudonym.

  7. Daniel Lindquist Says:

    I am all of the commenters above, including Evgeni.


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