Deconstruction and Pragmatism by Simon Critchley

By Simon Critchley

Deconstruction and pragmatism represent of the most important highbrow affects at the modern theoretical scene; impacts personified within the paintings of Jacques Derrida and Richard Rorty. either Rortian pragmatism, which pulls the implications of post-war advancements in Anglo-American philosophy, and Derridian deconstruction, which extends and problems the phonomenological and Heideggerian impact at the Continental culture, have hitherto in most cases been considered as together particular philosophical language games.The objective of this quantity is to carry deconstruction and pragmatism into severe war of words with each other via staging a debate among Derrida and Rorty, itself in line with discussions that came about on the university foreign de Philosophie in Paris in 1993. the floor for this debate is layed out in introductory papers via Simon Critchley and Ernesto Laclau, and the rest of the amount documents Derrida's and Rorty's responses to every other's paintings. Chantal Mouffe offers an summary of the stakes of this debate in a valuable preface.

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Thus, the crucial distinction to draw is that between an argumentative form of language which addresses the problems of social justice—what we called ‘the 30 SIMON CRITCHLEY public’—and a non-argumentative, often oracular, form of language that is world-disclosive and concerned with the quest for individual autonomy—what we called ‘the private’. Failure to draw the distinction between the public and the private will lead, on the one hand, to the sort of reading that Carnap gives of Heidegger, and Habermas gives of Derrida, and, on the other hand, to the reading that Gasche gives of Derrida and—perhaps—that Derrida gives of Austin.

21). Such remarks risk political complacency and can be read as a (re)descriptive apologetics for the inequality, intolerance, exploitation and disenfranchisement within actually existing liberal democracies. 4 The problem that is caught sight of here, as pointed out by Mark Warren,5 is that Rorty’s purportedly post-philosophical reconstruction of liberalism risks repeating the exhausted abstractions of classical liberalism, against which the left-Hegelian and socialist critiques of liberalism are still largely valid.

The public is defined as being concerned with those activities ‘having to do with the suffering of other human beings’, with the attempt to minimize cruelty and work for social justice (Rorty forthcoming, p. 1). Rorty’s central claim in Contingency, Irony and Solidarity—a claim, moreover, that would be devastating to much work in philosophy if taken seriously —is that it is theoretically impossible to unite or reconcile the public and private domains. Such a desire for reconciliation lies at the basis of Platonism, Christianity, Kantianism and Marxism (other examples could be given), in so far as each of these has attempted to fuse the claims of self-interest, self-realization, personal salvation or individual autonomy with the eidos of justice, charity and love of one’s fellow humans, the universality of the categorical imperative or the proletariat as the universal class and agent of history.

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