Deconstruct

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  • A term coined by the philosopher Jacques Derrida, who himself is playing on a term used by Martin Heidegger, Destruktion (destruction), and Abbau. Abbau—“dismantling” or “unbuilding,” from bauen (to build)—better captures, than does Destruktion, the careful disassembling and reassembling of the Western philosophical tradition that Heidegger's and Derrida's work represent. Derrida himself refused to constrain deconstruction to any kind of critical method because any method or critique instantiates precisely the metaphysics of presence that deconstruction seeks to avoid. Yet in popular parlance, the term is used loosely: in a positive sense, to think critically and in a negative sense, to render meaning empty, obscurantist, and relative.

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