Today’s NYTimes Op-Ed page features a reflection of Jacques Derrida’s philosophy that begins by discussing the wide scope of it’s influence and unfolds as a brilliant indictment of the current administration without ever actually naming names.
He defines Derrida’s deconstruction (“The guiding insight of deconstruction is that every structure – be it literary, psychological, social, economic, political or religious – that organizes our experience is constituted and maintained through acts of exclusion. In the process of creating something, something else inevitably gets left out.”) and immediately segues into its history of misuse at the hands of those who have not “responsibly understood” it and used it to create divisions between groups and people. He discusses Derrida’s black and white thinking is inherently flawed. “There can be no ethical action without critical reflection.”
Without ever mentioning Bush’s name, Taylor does a fantastic job of consciously criticizing the administration and its absolute, blind certainty in its righteousness.
Mr. Derrida reminded us that religion does not always give clear meaning, purpose and certainty by providing secure foundations. To the contrary, the great religious traditions are profoundly disturbing because they all call certainty and security into question. Belief not tempered by doubt poses a mortal danger.
If there is anyone today who poses such a mortal danger, it’s the leader of the free world, the man who constantly reminds us that there are only two sides in this world–with us or against us. The man who constantly reminds us that you’re either on the side of evil or the side of good. The man who so often tries to convince us that a sign of a leader is never changing one’s mind. That certainty is strength. Good ol’ Jacques might have counseled him otherwise.
[Derrida] also taught us that the alternative to blind belief is not simply unbelief but a different kind of belief – one that embraces uncertainty and enables us to respect others whom we do not understand. In a complex world, wisdom is knowing what we don’t know so that we can keep the future open.