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Who's Afraid of Philosophy?: Right to Philosophy 1 (Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics) [Paperback]

By Jacques Derrida (Author) & Jan Plug (Translator)
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Item description for Who's Afraid of Philosophy?: Right to Philosophy 1 (Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics) by Jacques Derrida & Jan Plug...

This volume reflects Jacques Derrida's engagement in the late 1970s with French political debates on the teaching of philosophy and the reform of the French university system. He was a founding member of the Research Group on the Teaching of Philosophy (Greph), an activist group that mobilized opposition to the Giscard government's proposals to "rationalize" the French educational system in 1975, and a convener of the Estates General of Philosophy, a vast gathering in 1979 of educators from across France.
While addressing specific contemporary political issues on occasion, thus providing insight into the pragmatic deployment of deconstructive analysis, the essays deal mainly with much broader concerns. With his typical rigor and spark, Derrida investigates the genealogy of several central concepts which any debate about teaching and the university must confront.
Thus there are essays on the "teaching body," both the faculty "corps" and the strange interplay in the French (but not only the French) tradition between the mind and body of the professor; on the question of age in teaching, analyzed through a famous letter of Hegel; on the class, the classroom, and the socio-economic concept of class in education; on language, especially so-called "natural languages" like French; and on the legacy of the revolutionary tradition, the Estates General, in the university. The essays are linked by the extraordinary care and precision with which Derrida undertakes a political intervention into, and a philosophical analysis of, the institutionalization of philosophy in the university.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Stanford University Press
Pages   208
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.04" Width: 6.12" Height: 0.64"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 15, 2002
Publisher   Stanford University Press
ISBN  0804742952  
ISBN13  9780804742955  

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More About Jacques Derrida & Jan Plug

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Jacques Derrida was Director of Studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and Professor of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine. Stanford has published twelve of his books, most recently Without Alibi (2002) and Negotiations: Interventions and Interviews, 1971-2001 (2002).

Jacques Derrida was born in 1962.

Jacques Derrida has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics

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Not Virginia Woolf...  May 7, 2004
This text is part of a much larger work entitled `Du droit a la philosophie' (Right to Philosophy), a collection of letters, essays, interviews and talks given by Derrida in the 1970s and 1980s. These deal with issues around teaching philosophy, the nature and problems of philosophical writing and research, how the discipline of philosophy relates to institutions (with a particular emphasis on universities), all with Derrida's classic insight and deconstructive sense of the mind.

During the 1960s and into the 1970s, higher education was a centre of change and rebellion, in a polyvalent sense of these terms. Not only growth of the mind and new discoveries that inevitably lead to change, and not only reinterpretation and changing systems and structures due to the deconstruction of traditional and static frameworks, but literally through the rebellion and sometimes violent actions of students (with the support of not a few faculty members, in France and in America), change was taking place. There was a grand meeting called in France in the late 1970s with the intention of discerning the fate of the philosophical discipline, whose proposals (the Haby proposal) were never implemented, but whose spirit helped establish the College International de Philosophie.

Derrida first looks at the right to philosophy, from the various ways this sentence can be constructed. What is a right to philosophy? Who has a right to philosophy? What is assumed as foundational and institutional, and what looks out beyond these to horizons? What are rights? Derrida places much emphasis on linguistic interpretation and deconstruction, looking both at the right to language and the right of language in the quest for the right to philosophy. There is a vast amount of privilege here.

Derrida looks at the roles of teachers, the very concept and the structure of faculty classes today and in the past. He identifies a crisis in teaching, particularly in the teaching of philosophy, in historical and conceptual paradigms. Philosophy would always be borne of crisis and finds its life in crisis - it is only in the constancy of questions that philosophy continues, which means a constancy of doubt and the unknown, and this can represent crisis. However, there are more `concrete' crises which deal with the political (is philosophy doing what the institution, supported by the state, wants it to do?) and the broader intellectual context of the rise (perhaps dominance) of the mathematical and physical sciences all the while undergoing their own crisis of confidence.

This is not an easy text, nor is it one that readers of general philosophy will find of interest. It assumes two things - a high degree of familiarity with Derrida, and a high degree of familiarity with the societal situation in philosophy education, particularly in France. In some ways, this could be a post-modern response to John Henry Newman's `Idea of a University'; in the midst of the particular, Derrida does address in his typical fashion larger ideas of importance to higher education today.


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