Deconstruction and Hermeneutics

  • Rodolphe Gasché


Of the contentious debates that deconstruction has touched off, the one concerning its relation to hermeneutics has drawn special attention. As Pöggeler has noted, one can already create a small library from the pertinent writings about this subject (Pöggeler, 1994, p. 481). In any event, what distinguishes the debate is a seemingly uncompromising confrontation with no end in sight. Derrida’s critique of hermeneutics’ postulation of a master sense, a sole and true meaning of texts, has triggered the verdict by hermeneutic philosophers, including Gadamer, that deconstruction celebrates the end of the philosophies of meaning in a Nietzschean feast of, and free play on, words. However, it is worth remarking that Derrida only rarely, and merely in passing, takes on the various positions in the institutionalized discipline of hermeneutics. Certainly, at times, Derrida’s statements about hermeneutics read like a critique of Ricoeur’s hermeneutic philosophy. But, except for Derrida’s response to Gadamer’s intervention during their meeting in Paris in 1981, references to Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics are absent from his examination of hermeneutics. Still, what about the occasional presence of the name of Schleiermacher in Derrida’s writings? Does it not at least suggest a concerted and focused debate with the historical forms of the art of interpretation, and the hermeneutic tradition?


Hermeneutic Phenomenology Hermeneutic Tradition Institutionalize Discipline Phenomenology Affect Master Sense 
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Works Cited

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© Rodolphe Gasché 2000

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  • Rodolphe Gasché

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