Tag Archives: Derrida

Deconstruction is justice

This week’s food for thought asked to discuss the Jacques Derrida’s claim that ‘deconstruction is justice’.  By stating that ‘deconstruction is justice’ Derrida’s notes that ‘justice’ is constructed in the process of making ‘justice’. To put it differently, Derrida notes that there can be no fixed definition as the true essence of justice relies on combining different terms. That is, we must constantly refer to things that are external to the definition we attempt to construct. To better exemplify, consider this example. If the government proposes to its citizens that ‘justice is equality’, then this statement alone would raise many questions for Derrida and Derrida’s followers. To put it differently, one of the question which would arise is as follows: what does equality mean and who is defining equality?.  From practicing this approach, we would have involved ourselves in interrogating the terms which would appear to be fixed. In short, Derrida’s overall point to his readers is that concepts are always in the process of becoming and never finalized. In other words, an individual is always ‘deferring’ terms to better understand their meaning. The above mentioned points connect to the next point which Derrida makes.

An additional point that Derrida makes when he notes that ‘deconstruction is justice’ is that one would be able to find the hidden meanings in text. There is nothing outside of text. In brief, there is no way to escape language. As noted, “[d]econstruction emerges in a reading of texts that is attentive to traces and absences-signs and associations that are not out found within the text, but which give the text meaning” (Larsen, 2012).  Moreover, Derrida defines ‘deconstruction’ in relation to binaries. One must interrogate the terms in which these binaries exist and then interrogate them. As explained, “[d]econstruction involves the overturning of binary oppositions through the identification of implicit hierarchies, unintended meanings, historical contingencies, and- above all-through questioning” (Larsen, 2012). For example, to better understand the meaning of ‘rich and poor’ it would be important to interrogate what constitutes the term ‘rich’ and ‘poor’. Overall, it is important to remain open-ended when defining terms as it is this process which allows us to connect to various other terms. As stated in the criminology 3305-Law and Society lecture, ‘[j]ustice is like a butterfly-the act of attempt to grasp justice-actually kills the purpose of justice. The whole purpose of justice is in the pursuit-its always becoming’ (Larsen, 2012).

References:

Larsen, M. (2012). Derrida: Deconstruction, Justice, and Law. [CRIM 3305-Law and Society –Class Handout]. Surrey, Canada: Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Larsen, M. (2012). Derrida-Lecture Notes. Surrey, Canada: Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Musing

Deconstruction is Justice

The final ‘food for thought’ question asking us to explain Derrida’s claim “Deconstruction is Justice” is exactly what Mike said it would be, straightforward yet challenging. Unlike other theorist, Derrida gives no fixed definition of justice and deconstructs the definitions given to words by looking at new meanings within them. Derrida explains how the English language is used to make logic-based methods of understanding and is another way to address law and justice (Pavlich, 2011). Pavlich, 2011 gives us a case example in the text book describing how judges often cannot define crime, punishment or justice but instead look other case examples because the meanings of these words have other terms. Derrida explains the process of giving meaning by involving “deferring signs to one another in a dynamic way to produce provincial, context-specific meaning” (Pavlich, 2011).

Derrida’s lack of ability to define justice is examined by terms that are authorized to relate to other terms (Pavlich, 2011). He also “suggests how the process of deferring to other terms actually creates meaning, being, and presence” (Pavlich, 2011). An example of this can be shown when trying to define law, crime, justice, violence, and punishment like we had done in class. No word can be defined itself without defining another concept within that definition. For example, we said that justice is fair but the word fair also had to be defined because there are many different concepts of fairness. Pavlich 2011 describes this in the text book by saying that meanings are never fixed but are instead deferred to other terms. The reason that justice is difficult to define by Derrida is because this “realization defies any attempt to find absolute, fixed, or closed definitions.

Derrida’s claim, “Deconstruction is Justice”, looks at different ways of generating new meanings that does not destroy” but instead enhances new meaning (Pavlich, 2011). I would have to agree with Derrida’s claim because it is very true that no term has a fixed meaning thus it could mean something different to someone else. An example of this was proven to me in class during our activity to define terms. Our term was justice and yet everyone in the group had something different to say about justice. If we were to think about this in our everyday lives, there are many things that are never really clear and easy to understand for example hate crime laws. Hate crime laws are defined in the criminal code of Canada but in many case examples the definition is always being questioned and is defined differently.

References:

Larsen, M. (2012). Derrida: Deconstruction, Justice, and Law. (Class handout)

Pavlich, G. (2011). Law and Society Redefined. Ontario, Canada: Oxford University Press

1 Comment

Filed under Musing