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The word deconstruction, which was introduced into philosophical discussion by the Algerian-born philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930–2004), is today often used as shorthand for the critical reading of texts and the critical analysis of philosophical ideas and arguments. While much of Derrida’s work does indeed contain critical readings of the work of other philosophers, and of philosophical concepts and ideas more generally, and while such readings do focus on underlying assumptions, including metaphysical assumptions, the word deconstruction actually has a much more precise and much more original meaning in Derrida’s work. The aim of this entry is to clarify what the idea of deconstruction is “about” and to show how, through this, Derrida has made a highly original contribution to the philosophical discussion, one with important ...

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