Deconstruction vs. Pragmatism
I've been reading Deconstruction and Pragmatism, a collection of essays by Chantal Mouffe, Richard Rorty, Jacques Derrida Ernest Laclau and Simon Critchley. This is an excellent book for several reasons, primarily because it examines the relationship that deconstructivist and pragmatist theories have on the foundations of rationalist democracy, a topic that I'm fascinated with. In many aspects, both Derrida and Rorty's work undermine the dominant rationalist approach that underlies most academic and political infrastructures.
Derrida and Rorty are at one in refusing Habermas's claim that there exists a necessary link between universalism, rationalism and modern democracy and that constitutional democracy represents a moment in the unfolding of reason, linked to the emergence of universalist forms of law and morality. They both deny the availability of an Archimedean point-such as Reason-that could guarantee the possibility of a mode of argumentation that would have transcended its particular conditions of enunciation.
Nevertheless, their critique of rationalism and universalism does not prevent them being strongly committed to the defence of the political side of the Enlightenment, the democratic project. Their disagreement with Habermas is not political but theoretical. They share his engagement with democratic politics but they consider that democracy does not need philosophical foundations and that it is not through rational grounding that its institutions could be made secure.
The book suggests, through the critical contributions of each author in a roundtable symposium, that it is possible to theoretically develop and outline a non-foundationalist concept about the issue of democracy.
Rorty and Derrida have both very interesting and genial essays, both of which I haven't seen before on the internet. I'll put them up in the next few posts. 🙂
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