10.10.04

CONTROVERSIAL GIANT PASSES.
Jacques Derrida, the Algerian-born, French intellectual who became one of the most celebrated and notoriously difficult philosophers of the late 20th century, died Friday at a Paris hospital, the French president's office announced. He was 74.
(From the New York Times, via Henry at Crooked Timber.)

What is it about some controversial figures that their defenders have to use the "bad acolytes, good priest" argument? Consider this, from Balkinization:
Perhaps the most important thing to say about Derrida is that he was not a Derridean. Other people made use of his work in ways that would probably have horrified him. He was what Richard Rorty once called an edifying philosopher-- not a system builder, or a great fashioner of airtight arguments, but one whose work incited and inspired others.
Yeh, I've heard the same thing about Marx and about Stalin.

Sean at The American Mind finds a Samizdata tribute on a somewhat lighter note.
Though to say that he has "died" is to, perhaps, impose a structural context defined by the ontology of Western metaphysics. In the grammatic, linguistic and rhetorical senses he has merely desedimented, dismantled and decomposed. Indeed, this is a grand narrative undoing in the egological, methodological and general sense, as opposed to a mere critique in the idiomatic or Kantian sense.

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