Primarily a philosophical and literary method of critique developed by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida (b. 1930), deconstruction aims to expose and destabilize attempts to systematically ground knowledge in an absolute, foundational meaning, logic, or referent. Deconstruction is used to criticize Western culture's search for ultimate meaning or truth, what is often referred to as the “transcendental signified,” and the supposed ability to translate this truth through language. The method of deconstruction entails discovering a fundamental binary opposition in an argument or text (such as presence/absence), exposing its hierarchical relationship, revealing the reliance of one concept upon the other, and subordinating the previously dominant idea. Through this method, the binary is relativized and displaced, rendering it meaningless.

Deconstructionists refer to the ambition to discover ultimate meanings ...

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