Jacques Derrida’s concept of deconstruction based on Heidegger’s concept of destructio, met an important audience in the USA. Do Americans make the connection between the two?
No one familiar with Derrida’s work can be unaware of his decisive debt to Heidegger. Heidegger’s star power in the US (i.e., in American academic circles) is totally bound up with the star power of Derrida. To put it very simply, Derrida’s view was that Western metaphysics gave us a set of binaries — true/false; good/bad/; just/unjust; free/unfree; beautiful/ugly; and so on — and the job of Derridean philosophy is to deconstruct those binaries. Supposedly, that’s a “progressive” project. The core idea — drawn directly from Heidegger — is that Western metaphysics is oppressive, and deconstructing Western metaphysics liberates us. This whole way of thinking seems to me thoroughly misguided and very unfortunate indeed. As Aristotle pointed out many centuries ago, all human beings cannot help being powerfully committed to notions of what’s true and what isn’t; what’s just and what isn’t; what’s morally and politically valid and what isn’t; and so on. That applies to Nietzsche and Heidegger; it applies to you and me; and it applies no less to contemporary exponents of the far right. The human project is to try to clarify what *is* true, what *is* just, what *is* beautiful, etc. Trying to deconstruct these binaries isn’t helpful.