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Modernism and Post-modernism in Ideas of Jacques Derrida

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Introduction to Jacques Derrida

In recent French intellectual history, Jacques Derrida was among the most popular, controversial but also knowledgeable figures. He pioneered a way of philosophy to which he called Deconstruction, that radically changed our comprehension of several academic disciplines, particularly literary studies. Derrida was born in El Biar, an Algiers suburb, what used to be French colonial Algeria, in 1930. At school, he was initially sluggish and harbored aspirations to become a professional football player. As all other Jewish children, Derrida was unfairly excluded from his Lycée and spent much of his time with his mother at home. He was tremendously affected from the anti-Semitism of the majority Muslim community in Algeria, and it was highly influenced by the experience by being in a weaker position in the fulcrum of three distinct religions: Judaism, and Christianity, all of which pretend to speak the reality of the situation that neither of them understood how to treat everyone with specific regard. Derrida at the age of 19 moved to Paris in 1949, to take a seat at the reputable École Normale Supérieure. He was a bright student but was in a strange position. Extremely advantaged in regards to education, but absolutely on the edges in Urban France in his social standing as that of an Algerian Jew. While Derrida wasn’t an autobiographical author, it is difficult not to read his writings as an abstract reply to his understanding of bigotry and exclusion. Derrida started developing the ideas which started his career from the later 1960s onward. Over time he became an intellectual figure in America and Europe. He was absolutely stunning. A fine-looking guy with a nice choice in haircuts and raincoats. He had a love life that was beautiful, varied, and complex. He was convicted on a wholly complete drug smuggling charge in 1980 but was assisted by both the French president and left-wing politicians. He enjoyed playing billiards and spent much of the afternoons at the game which he was exceptionally good at. He passed away at the age of 74 in 2004 due to pancreatic cancer. Derrida has published 40 books which are all esoteric and discreet. The most widely used term associated to Derrida is deconstruction. He used it to explain how he thought, and when others began to use this word he frequently felt as if they had misinterpreted what he implied by it. Deconstruction basically means removing our unnecessary allegiance to some notion and trying to see facets of the reality that might lie hidden in the contrary. Derrida wrote his first significant book in 1967: ‘Of Grammatology”. Derrida was sure that because Socrates and other Western philosophers have consistently preferred speech, which has been viewed as genuine communication, and not writing, which has been perceived as a pure interpretation as to what others may say, a second-hand account devoid of engagement and veracity that comes with the speech. But Derrida’s ultimate goal was to pursue a huge, perplexing proposition. However, once it is investigated closely, most of our thoughts become filled with a hoax, unjust and unhelpful, privileging one aspect over another.Speech is preferred over text, logic over feelings, men, for a long time, women, literature over pictorials, vision over touching. The disregarded opponents and even some of the main counterparts are deserving of love and affection, he insisted. Rationale versus skepticism, masculinity, femininity, the benefit versus charity, etc. He hoped that we could learn to deal with a few of the disagreements that lie under these terms more intelligently, that we could begin to see that there are two sides to everything, that both are a little wrong, that both required each other, and that the conflict between them would inevitably always be irrevocable. It might sound like Derrida was just using Deconstruction to criticize tradition and the capitalist system and push an egalitarian agenda for the left, but it was far more cryptic than that. For instance, in the Deconstruction of the concept of equality, Derrida suggested that the claim that equality is often better than inequality, while this may be a contemporary liberal maxim, is unreliable and vague, and he figured out that some of the best human scenarios we encounter is clearly not representations of equality in practice. To deconstruct any notion is to prove that it’s really uncertain and loaded with fallacies, and we must always bear in mind its mundanity. Derrida criticized a tendency to assume that a nice and tidy answer lies somewhere behind every situation. He stated, for example, that we can reasonably be puzzled about the benefits of socialism and capitalism, or the relation between sex and love, but we must not jump to conclusions on these subjects. For both sides of such equations, there are interesting things to be said. To infer that capitalism would either be wonderful or perverse, or whether sex and love are closely connected or have little to do with each other, is to avoid confrontation with reality’s deception and surrealistic existence. This is not symbolic of weakness or foolishness to be puzzled and unsure about these definitions. It’s the key symbol of maturity for Derrida. MODERNISM Vs. POST-MODERNISM

One group identified as modernism another as post-modernism can be classified as two discrete phases of the twentieth century. The shift of modernism to post-modernism occurred because of the fundamental difference which resides both in way of looking at society and advancement. Both of them are a reaction to Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a seventeenth-century period in the European past when science and logic apparently prevailed over beliefs and custom as a social steering principle of progression. The actuality was a mosaic and both moves started this confusion.

The Enlightenment’s two core principles were: (1) the perfect capacity of human nature, and (2) the belief in human advancement through the improvement of human knowledge, particularly science.

The Enlightenment is mostly regarded as the beginning of a modern era of mankind’s history by several historians though not by all. In the 19th century, philosophers and artists carefully examined the Enlightenment, and it was reconfirmed but some of the enlightenment values like assurance was detracted. Scientific discoveries, such as quantum physics, severely undermined the idea of a probabilistic model of the universe in the 20th century. The rationale was always upheld as a guiding force, just as was the faith in human evolution. Technology intruded in all facets of life and was seen as indicative of the potential to change human life for measuring purposes. The Modernism project was to explore the hindrances that still held back society. For instance, there was the exclusion of realism as an artistic model in the fine arts and the push toward more abstraction and true self-conscious artwork. It can be seen through painters such as Theodore van Gogh’s artistic endeavors and his captivating landscapes, as well as Picasso and his cubist painting. Such works articulated profound perceptional truth without becoming equivalent to the facts observed. Likewise, modernism in music pointed to a time of change and progress when composers looked away from old music standards by experimenting with harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic elements of the music being modified, organized, and attempted. In the domain of music, the modernist composers contested orthodox reality by experimentation in composition. Literature and architecture were usually considered artists’ eccentric creations during the modernist period. Such works were perceived to have profound significance. It was a period where novels and books dominated.

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In the post-modernist period with the advent of microchips, digitization, as well as other technical developments, computers, and televisions became prevalent in society, and digital media started to reproduce and preserve art and literary works. Individuals refused to accept that artwork and literature held a special significance; instead, post-modernists suggest that pieces of art and literary works derive their own significance. Multimedia and the Internet contribute to information exchange. Music by artists like Beethoven and Mozart was less popular in the post-modern period, but it was appreciated during modernism. Post-modernism was characterized by world music, remixes, and DJs. A post-modern blend of various architectural styles substituted architecture types that was common during modernism.

Modernism Overview

Modernism refers to a series of later 19th and nascent 20th-century cultural movements. this was an intellectual and political initiative, with the key premise of conventional ideals and systems were oppressive, discriminatory, and ineffective and should thus be done away by logical values and structures. Modernism was marked by a radical shift in philosophy that used intelligence to enhance the human condition. Through the support of science, innovation, and technology, modernism has brought about a revolution in all realms of life like politics, business, artwork, and literature. That contributed to change in many facets of existence by transforming mankind’s approach to culture. Essentially, with the use of science and philosophy, modernism tried to liberate society from its historical stigma. Liberalism, communism, and socialism for example are prevalent manifestations of modernist politics. Modernists sought to create iconic things in art, architecture, and music that are not bound to orthodoxy but focused on technical mathematical syntaxes instead. Schoenberg’s music, the Baha School of Architecture, and painters like El Lissitzky are common examples of modernist art.

Post-modernism Overview

Post-modernism simply means subsequent to modern. This was a response to modernism and it was inspired by World War II disillusionment. Post-modernism simply refers to the stage lacking a central authority and a complicated, vague, and diverse one. For example, post-modernism impacted the development of the 1960s society, culture, and economy. Post-modernism can also be seen as the cynical reaction to modernism which has been a constructive and positive ideology. Post-modernists attributed to the idea that modernist principles can never be accomplished due to variations between cultures and people in general. In other words, Post-modernist like Derrida, Heidegger, and Lyotard challenged the modernist strong belief in objectivity, rationality, and universalism favoring relativism (the perspective there’s no ultimate truth) and also identity. Strong concepts such as liberty, progress in society, and scientific advancement were dismissed by post-modernists, who instead stressed that diversity should be celebrated rather than imposed unification. This mindset came forward because of certain failures in the Modernist agenda such as World War I, World War II, colonialism, and the inability of both Stalinism and liberal capitalism to achieve what modernity had promised, primarily prosperity and freedom. Postmodernism in a way is the retaliation toward modernity. The two world wars basically marked a significant loss to society. Post-modernists assert that modernism permitted the atrocity of the wars that they saw as the chief architect of the Enlightenment, calculated rationality, and technology. The belief dissolved faith in human growth and human nature’s perfectibility. Tradition’s decline created a terrifying situation where context was difficult to distinguish amid the chaos of societal collapse. This resulted to severe questions regarding the potential role of humanity in the universe. Therefore post-modernism reflected a lack of faith in human rationality. It offers a pensive prognosis of human existence but does not propose any concrete solutions.

In a nutshell

Modernism and post-modernism both were movements that originated from the point of view of the ideals of the Enlightenment through the assessment of occurrences within the modern era. But, although modernism gave credentialed approval of Enlightenment, post-modernism was their unequivocal denouncement. Modernism is an ideology of unification. They united mankind with a quest and common goals. On the contrary, post-modernism was a counter-reaction to modernism. Post-modernist argued that mankind could never accomplish the objective of a united society.

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Modernism and Post-modernism in Ideas of Jacques Derrida. (2022, October 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from
“Modernism and Post-modernism in Ideas of Jacques Derrida.” Edubirdie, 28 Oct. 2022,
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