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The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 20, 1998

Philosophy and Gender

W. A. Borody
Pages 7-13

Classical Greek Philosophical Paideia in Light of the Postmodern Occidentalism of Jacques Derrida

In his writings during the 60s and 70s, Derrida situates his doctrine of différance in the context of a radical critique of the Western philosophical tradition. This critique rests on a scathing criticism of the tradition as logocentric/phallogocentric. Often speaking in a postured, Übermenschean manner, Derrida claimed that his 'new' aporetic philosophy of différance would help bring about the clôture of the Western legacy of logocentrism and phallogocentrism. Although in recent writings he appears to have settled into a more pietistic attitude towards the traditionally Judeo-Christian sense of the sacred and a stronger declamatory acknowledgment of his solidarity with the critical project of the Greek thinkers, many of his readers are still left with a sour taste in their mouths due to the denunciatory and self-ingratiating tone of his earlier writings. In this paper, I address these concerns, arguing that the earlier phallogocentric paradigm underlying Derrida's critique of classical Greek philosophical paideia can be troped as a postmodern, Franco-Euro form of 'Occidentalism'-a 'metanarrative' very similar in intent to the Orientalism critiqued by Said. In Derrida’s earlier writings, it is indeed very difficult to untangle this Occidental metanarrative from the aporetic metaphysics of différance.

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