Mark Dooley and Liam Kavanagh, The Philosophy of Derrida (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2007).
In The Philosophy of Derrida, Mark Dooley examines Derrida’s large body of work to provide an overview of his core philosophical ideas and a balanced appraisal of their lasting impact. One of the author’s primary aims is to make accessible Derrida’s writings by discussing them in a vernacular that renders them less opaque and nebulous. Derrida’s unusual writing style, which mixes literary and philosophical vocabularies, is shown to have hindered their interpretation and translation. Dooley situates Derrida squarely in the tradition of historicist, hermeneutic and linguistic thought, and Derrida’s objectives and those of “deconstruction” are rendered considerably more convincing. While Derrida’s works are ostensibly diverse, Dooley reveals an underlying cohesion to his writings. From his early work on Husserl, Hegel and de Saussure, to his most recent writings on justice, hospitality and cosmopolitanism, Derrida is shown to have been grappling with the vexed question of national, cultural and personal identity and asking to what extent the notion of a “pure” identity has any real efficacy. Viewed from this perspective Derrida appears less as a wanton iconoclast, for whom deconstruction equals destruction, but as a sincere and sensitive writer who encourages us to shed light on out historical constructions so as to reveal that there is much about ourselves that we do not know.