Deconstruction: A Misprision of Saussure and Charles Sanders Peirce – Philosophy and Literature – article

Deconstruction: A Misprision of Saussure and Charles Sanders Peirce

Leon Surette | Philosophy and Literature

2019-11-01

Derrida’s creative misreading of Saussure and Peirce underpins the radical scepticism of deconstruction, an ideological movement that arose from the disillusionment of French Marxist intellectuals with Soviet communism in the late 1950s. They moved (via Saussurean linguistics) from Sartre’s and Merleau-Ponty’s frontal attack on liberal capitalism to an outflanking movement, belatedly targeting scientific positivism seen as the philosophical underpinning of liberal capitalism; “belatedly” because the language philosophy of Wittgenstein, Austin, and Searle had already displaced Frege and Russell. A parallel disillusionment in America, prompted by the morass of Vietnam, created a welcoming literary culture for the anti-essentialist posture of structuralism and its heir, deconstruction.

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