Derrida died

John Grehan jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG
Wed Oct 13 09:17:24 CDT 2004

This will only be of interest to a tiny minority of TAXACOM subscribers
so apologies in advance. The notice below extracted from Reuters refers
to Derrida's passing last week. Derrida may not seem all that relevant
to systematics, but his work has been shown to provide a critical
element for understanding biogeography and spatial analysis and to
understanding the nature of meaning and knowledge in biogeography. Much
of Derrida's work concerned presence and absence - the every substance
of biogeography. Derrida could have almost been describing
panbiogeography when he noted: "Now, stricto sensu, the notion of
structure refers only to space, geometric or morphological space, the
order of forms and sites. Structure is first the structure of an organic
or artificial work, the internal unity of an assemblage, a construction;
a work is governed by a unifying principle, the architecture that is
built and made visible in a location." (Writing and Difference 1982).


John Grehan


Derrida, father of deconstructionism, dies
Sat 9 October, 2004 18:29 


By Timothy Heritage 

PARIS (Reuters) - French philosopher Jacques Derrida, the founder of the
school of deconstructionism, has died of cancer at the age of 74, France
Info radio has said. 

It said Algerian-born Derrida had died on Friday of cancer of the

Derrida, who divided his time between France and the United States,
argued that the traditional way we read texts makes a number of false
assumptions and that they have multiple meanings which even their author
may not have understood. 

His thinking gave rise to the school of deconstruction, a method of
analysis that has been applied to literature, linguistics, philosophy,
law and architecture. 

It is heralded as showing the multiple layers of meaning at work in
language, but was described by critics as nihilistic. 

"In him, France gave the world one of the greatest contemporary
philosophers, one of the major figures in the intellectual life of our
time," French President Jacques Chirac said in a statement after
learning of his death. 

"Through his work, he sought to find the free movement which lies at the
root of all thinking." 

Born into a Jewish family in El-Biar in Algeria on July 15, 1930,
Derrida began studying philosophy at the elite Ecole Normale Superieure
in 1952 and taught at Paris's Sorbonne University from 1960 to 1964. 

>From the early 1970s, Derrida spent much of his time teaching in the
United States, at such universities as Johns Hopkins, Yale and the
University of California at Irvine. 

His work focused on language. Challenging the idea that a text has an
unchangeable meaning, Derrida said the author's intentions cannot be
accepted unconditionally and that this means each text can have multiple

His ideas were seen as showing unavoidable tensions between the ideals
of clarity and coherence that govern philosophy. 

He was seen as the inheritor of "anti-philosophy", the school of thought
of predecessors such as Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin

Derrida's work was at times controversial. Some staff at Cambridge
University protested when the university proposed awarding him an
honorary degree in 1992, though he did eventually receive it. 

In the early 1980s he was detained when he left his Prague hotel room
for the airport after displeasing Czechoslovakia's Communist authorities
by giving a lecture on deconstructionist theory. 

Derrida was once married to Sylvaine Agacinski, who is now the wife of
former Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. Derrida and Agacinski had
one son. 



Dr. John R. Grehan

Director of Science and Collections

Buffalo Museum of Science1020 Humboldt Parkway

Buffalo, NY 14211-1193

email: jgrehan at

Phone: (716) 896-5200 ext 372



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