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    نبذة عن العمارة التفكيكية ....باللغة الانكليزية

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    نبذة عن العمارة التفكيكية ....باللغة الانكليزية

    مُساهمة من طرف hattan في الثلاثاء مارس 03, 2009 4:08 am

    James E. Faulconer
    (Revised 15 June 1998)






    Some words are their own worst enemies. Deconstruction is one of them. Like existentialism, special, liberal, conservative, and postmodern, its meaning is often so vague as to be useless. Coined, more or less, by the contemporary French philosopher, Jacques Derrida, the word deconstruction began its life in the late sixties, but it has only become part of the American vocabulary in the last ten years or so. In that time, however, it has moved from a technical philosophical term adopted by literary critics for their related uses to a word that pops up in offhand remarks by everyone from botanists to the clergy. Whatever its original meaning, in its now widespread use, deconstruction has come to mean "tear down" or "destroy" (usually when the object is nonmaterial).



    These uses of the word have been anything but charitable. To the irritation of older professors as well as Derrida (whom older professors often think of as "the enemy"), many in literature have used the word, positively and negatively, to mean something like, "playing with texts to show that they have no meaning." In the Anglo-American academy and to a lesser extent also in Continental Europe, the result has been that those who talk about deconstruction positively often do so in simplistic ways and those who criticize it take the simpletons as representative of deconstruction. One side creates the straw men, the other side burns them down, but neither actually gets to the point of discussing deconstruction. Neither has the everyday use of the word as a synonym for destruction helped it avoid a bad reputation. Today, at best, to deconstruct something is to tear it apart. At worst, it is to be disrespectful and nihilistic.



    In the face of these assaults on the word deconstruction, I'm sure it is too late to save it from the fate of meaninglessness or synonymy with destruction. On the other hand, it may not be too late to say something about how the word began its life and what the philosophy called deconstruction is about. That may not save the word, but that shouldn't surprise us. The devil usually gets all the good words. That may not surprise us, but perhaps knowing something about the word and how Derrida originally meant it to work may help us understand what it means as a philosophical term and what the movement called deconstruction is about.



    Derrida takes the word deconstruction from the work of Martin Heidegger. In the summer of 1927, Martin Heidegger delivered a lecture course now published under the title, Basic Problems of Phenomenology. Given the topic of his lectures, Heidegger appropriately begins them with a discussion of the nature of philosophy and, particularly of the philosophical movement called phenomenology. Borrowing creatively from his teacher, Edmund Husserl, Heidegger says that phenomenology is the name for a method of doing philosophy; he says that the method includes three steps -- reduction, construction, and destruction -- and he explains that these three are mutually pertinent to one another. Construction necessarily involves destruction, he says, and then he identifies destruction with deconstruction, Abbau (20-23). Heidegger explains what he means by philosophical destruction by using an ordinary German word that we can translate literally "unbuild."



    The lexical and historical connection of deconstruction to destruction is obvious, but Heidegger does not mean by Abbau quite what we mean by either destruction or disassembly. He uses Abbau to show that in his method the word destruction does not mean what we might often mean by it. He explains what he means by Abbau -- deconstruction -- to clarify further that he does not simply mean "taking things apart." As Heidegger conceived deconstruction, it was an answer to a philosophical problem: "All philosophical discussion, even the most radical attempt to begin all over again, is pervaded by traditional concepts and thus by traditional horizons and traditional angles of approach" (Basic Problems 22). Unfortunately, however, we cannot assume that these concepts, horizons, and approaches are the best ones for dealing with the things they supposedly explain. There is a world "out there."(1) Our problem is that our only rational access to that world is linguistic, which might make us mistakenly to believe that our understanding of the world is always derivative from our language. If we add our suspicion to Heidegger's point that we have inherited our concepts and words from others who themselves had to work with inherited concepts and words and we quickly come to a question: How, then, can we think about the world productively? How can we avoid reducing understanding to something relative only to a particular language and history?



    Like every other philosopher in the nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries, Heidegger does not believe there is an autonomous tool called reason that we use irrespective of our language, time, circumstances, or interests, to criticize ideas. Thus, since we seem unable to begin from such a rational zero point, free of any already given concepts, terms, or approaches, it appears that we are forced to repeat the past and its mistakes. If we must use concepts we've inherited from others to do philosophy (or anything else), how can we ever get to anything new? How can we get beyond whatever philosophical mistakes our intellectual forebears may have made? Aren't we condemned to historicism and cultural relativism?(2)



    Ironically, given much of the current discussion of Heidegger's work and the work that derives from his, Heidegger's answer is, "No." We can use these concepts, horizons, and approaches against themselves to discover what produced them. We might, for example, think about Aristotle's discussion of form and matter, using those very terms to show their inadequacy. What, after all, is matter? Any answer I give is in terms of another form rather than in terms of matter. Questions: "What is that desk made of; what is its material?" Answer: "Wood." But the word wood gives us a form, not a matter. I can ask, "What is the wood made of?" and give a reasonable answer, though one still in terms of form. As we use the terms matter and form against themselves, what starts out looking like a perfectly sensible question becomes problematic. By problematizing the distinction, we begin to get at least a glimpse of the problem to which Aristotle was responding. Perhaps we begin to wonder -- to think -- in the same way that he did. If we do, perhaps we begin to do philosophy with regards to Aristotle's questions rather than simply to repeat the scholarly exegesis of Aristotle's philosophy.



    Derrida would say of this example that we can deconstruct the idea of form and matter. But what he means by deconstruction differs from what Heidegger means. For one thing, rather than a method or part of a method, for Derrida deconstruction is an attitude, in the root sense of that word. It is a position one has with regard to something.



    To think about the difference between Heidegger's and Derrida's notions of deconstruction, consider an example: I am writing a book on community. I will work over it repeatedly until I am satisfied that I am done. But what does done mean? Doesn't it mean "say everything I want to say"? And what do I want it to say? Everything. Everything, that is, about what it means to be a community. Of course, there will be this or that minor point that I may ignore or safely overlook, but as long as something significant remains to be said about my topic or as long as the connections of important points have not been made clear, I am not done. When I am done, therefore, I have produced something that claims to say everything of importance on my topic; that I have written the book on my topic is implicit in its existence as a book, even if I insert footnotes and apologies and disclaimers to the contrary.



    However, when I have finished the book and have (I hope) a publisher, what is the first thing I will do? I'll write an introduction. But introductions are odd things. If they can say what the book says, then what need is there for the book? If they can't, then what need is there for the introduction? Sometimes they are appetizers, things designed to get people to read the book (or at least to buy it). Most of the time, however, an introduction is a short version of the book, an overview. It sets the problem in context, it shows the readers how important the problem or solution is, it gives the argument in a more easily understood form. Introductions add to the book to improve it, to supplement its work.



    Thus, though the book implicitly claims to say everything needed, as a supplement, the introduction says "one more thing" or "the same thing briefly," deconstructing the book's claim to completeness and self-sufficiency. In deconstructing the book, the introduction doesn't show us the irrelevance of the book. It doesn't show us that the book is meaningless. It doesn't show us that just any interpretation of the book will do. It shows us that the book claims more than it can deliver, that it has left something out though it claims to be complete. I take that to be the general meaning of the word deconstruction as Derrida has used it: not just using our words and concepts against themselves, but showing what has been left out or overlooked. In fact, better: showing that something has been left out or overlooked, that omission is structural to any text -- and that we can find those omissions in the structure of the text -- without necessarily being able to specify what has been omitted.



    Notice, however, that once, by means of a deconstruction, we have seen something that was omitted, we won't be able to go back, insert the missing piece, and then be finally done. The omission is structural to writing and explaining because it is structural to existence and experience. Omission is unavoidable. The reason why is not difficult to see. For one thing, no one can say everything about anything; things are never that simple, not simple things, especially not "first things."



    This inability to say everything is not a failure of language, something to be overcome. Neither is it a point of new-age silliness or old-age magic (though it may be an origin of the latter). It is one of the properties of things.(3) If I hold an object up before someone and ask her to tell me what she sees, she can give a list of the thing's properties. If she works at it, she can make that list very long. It may become ever more difficult to add things to the list, but there is really no end to what she could truthfully say about the object. She can, for example, always relate it to another thing in the universe or even to the list she is making. Though we seldom have any reason to go on and on in such a way, there is, in principle, no end to the length of the description one can give of an ordinary object. As a result, it is impossible to say everything about an object, material or otherwise.



    More important, the object itself shows that there is still more to be said. Every object shows itself as a set of possibilities, not merely as a determinate thing. To see a particular object is to see it in terms of possibilities. It is for example, to see the possibility of seeing the object from another perspective without knowing what perspective that might be or what I might see from that other perspective. To see one side of a chalk board eraser is to know (though usually only implicitly) that there is another side. That there is more to see and, therefore, to say is not just an inference I make when I see this side; the other side is not something I deduce from seeing this side. The fact that there is more than what I see immediately is part and parcel of seeing an object at all, for I don't see planes and surfaces and then deduce that they are objects. I see objects from the beginning and, as objects, objects have aspects that don't meet the eye, aspects like their other sides and things that I will only discover determinately on investigation. There is always more in what I see than I can name. Kant might have called this fact about the excessive character of perception one of the conditions for the possibility of having an experience at all. To perceive an object is to know immediately that there is always more to be said. All experience is experience of more, of possibility.



    Most of the time these facts about describing things are quite irrelevant. For practical purposes I need only say what needs to be said, not everything. (For an interesting discussion of this, though not a deconstructive one, see Jerry Fodor's The Elm and the Expert.) I write a book for a purpose and an audience. It is difficult, if not impossible to do otherwise. Even if doing otherwise is possible, it isn't often a very good idea. Given that I would like to influence the ways we think about community, there is nothing wrong with my writing for my purpose and audience. I should do so.

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    رد: نبذة عن العمارة التفكيكية ....باللغة الانكليزية

    مُساهمة من طرف hattan في الثلاثاء مارس 03, 2009 4:10 am

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