Deconstruction Is Justice

Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) was a twentieth century philosopher who developed a strategy called “deconstruction” in the mid 1960’s.  “Deconstruction” has been noted to be a hard term to define. Deconstruction occurs when a word or context of a statement that is believed to have a fixed meaning is changed. An everyday example of this would be the translation of words from one language or culture to another. For example the swastika as a symbol and word was adopted by Nazi Germany in 1920, and used to represent the Aryn race. Hence, the “swastika” has now been strongly stigmatized.  However, the “swastika” has also been used by various ancient cultures in the world and still to this day is associated to be a positive symbol. For example in Hinduism, the word “swastika” translates to “to be good”, and is also the sacred symbol of auspiciousness. Here we have the same symbol and the same word, however one’s fixed understanding and meaning of the word would differ from another’s because the same words don’t have the same meaning. Derrida was committed to analyzing the literal meaning of a text all whilst finding alternative meanings as to what the text was stating. Deconstruction  probes questions about the limits and edges that have been placed on contexts. Making them adhere to a certain identity, and take on only one meaning when the context, text, or word can encompass so much more.

Derrida makes the claim that “Deconstruction is Justice”. With my understanding of deconstruction it is difficult to deconstruct the term “justice”. As justice has taken various different forms throughout periods of time and has changed ideology across culture to culture. Justice may be considered to have been served in one circumstance according to one person, and someone could disagree and say justice hasn’t been served. I agree with Derrida’s claim that “Deconstruction is Justice”. Taking a look at the process in which laws are interrupted in a case or in the courtroom is a key example of “Deconstruction is Justice”. Laws are made and state a certain limitation or power to do something however, each law is interpreted differently from individual to individual. Finding justice is something that since the start of time has been sought after, however with no one definition or one interpretation we may never be able to seek justice because of the ever changing definition and ideologies packed into the word.

Pavlich (2011) – Chapter 11 – Just Events: Law and Society

Weber, Elisabeth (2005). “Deconstruction is Justice”, SubStance 34(1): 38-43


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One response to “Deconstruction Is Justice

  1. This is an interesting post. Good work. The various interpretations of a given symbol makes for a good illustration of deconstruction – though I would note that it is not the fact that there are different interpretations but the practice of identifying them, pulling them apart, and exploring alternative meanings that constitutes deconstruction.

    You write that “Taking a look at the process in which laws are interrupted in a case or in the courtroom is a key example of “Deconstruction is Justice”. “

    Could you elaborate on this point?