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Jacques Derrida was one of the leading philosophical figures of the twentieth century. He is most famous for having pioneered a type of reading known as “deconstruction”—a kind of reading that entails a very close—some might say, excessively close—examination of texts. The practice of Deconstruction uncovers conflicting meanings that preclude the achievement of a single univocal meaning. The meaning of a text for Derrida is never present as a stable object. In addition, there can never be a successful appeal to a “transcendental signifier” or a hors texte, such as the author's intent, that would allow a reader to settle upon some fixed meaning.

Some interpreters of Derrida, particularly in the United States, have claimed that deconstruction implies that a text can mean anything. Some of ...

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