Monday, 4 September 2006

Grace to Derrida

I have just discovered that, for Derrida, not everything is a text. In a long interview published in Derrida and Religion(or here), Derrida is recorded as saying: "On or about 'grace given by God', deconstruction, as such, has nothing to say or to do. If it's given, let's say, to someone in a way that is absolutely improbable, that is, exceeding any proof, in a unique experience, then deconstruction has no lever on this...In relation to this experience of faith, deconstruction is totally, totally useless and disarmed." (p.39).
If I understand this properly, he is saying that you can't argue with personal experience. And if that experience is one of God's grace, then it is not deconstructable. What are we to make of this claim? Is Derrida saying that the revelation of God might be direct, unmediated by discourse, and all of the problems that follow? If so, does his claim fit better with sacramental or pentecostal Christianity than it does with evangelicalism?

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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think it is more about allowing for the possibility of the absolute. Deconstruction implies meaning which has been constructed in the first place, which is the central point of semiotics etc: signified and signifier and all that. Isn't this merely a recognition that the concept of revelation by grace implies meaning which is recieved, not constructed. The action of the Spirit that creates faith in a person who hears and believes the christian message is inherently a personal experience I would think, and hopefully at least the odd evangelical has made that wild step into experiental faith...

(p knight)

simon a said...

.. or is D. saying that the communication is unknowable to the observer and so cannot be the subject of deconstruction. D.'s view is unpacked by the communication that is, ` ...in a way that is absolutely improbable, that is, exceeding any proof, in a unique experience,' .. sounds to me like he is laying on the difficulty in anyone else knowing what the content, method and aim of the transmission is (except to the individual concerned). It is so ephemeral that it glances off the edge of deconstruction's bat. ?

Greg Clarke said...

Thanks for the comments. Yes, I think Derrida's point limits the connection between deconstruction and any particular worldview. I find this very helpful, since critics of D often suggest that his philosophy leads to nihilism. From the quote I gave, it is obvious that he leaves room for spiritual activity, even if he has nothing to say about it.

Drew said...

even if he has nothing to say about it

This is in fact, something he insists on, is it not?

michael jensen said...

BTW:

outstanding edition of teh CASE magazine!

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