Books about Deconstruction and Heidegger

Aporias. Jacques Derrida, translated by Thomas Dutoit, Stanford University Press, 1993.

About aporia, from Greek, difficulty of passage. Derrida refers to Aristotle's aporia of time (Physics IV, 217b), the paradoxical “gap” of the present presupposed by all motion (e.g. the paradox of determining time as both entity and nonentity), in order to take up Heidegger on the subject of death in Being & Time.


Deconstruction and Philosophy. Edited by John Sallis, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Derrida, Heidegger, Blanchot. Timothy Clark, Cambridge University Press, 1992.

'Jacques Derrida is undoubtedly one of the foremost figures in the development of twentieth-century literary theory. The school of "deconstruction" that has grown out of his work has been either absorbed into the corpus of modern literary theory, or more recently criticized for its departures from the original texts of Derrida in whose name it is practiced. Timothy Clark's innovative book traces instead sources of Derrida's practice of "literature" as a form of philosophical thinking in the work of Heidegger and Blanchot. It offers a welcome stylistic clarity in a field beleaguered by its philosophical and linguistic difficulty.

'Clark gives close readings of key texts including Heidegger's Conversation on a Country Path, Blanchot's L'attente l'oubli, and Derrida's Pas and Signeponge, and widens the scope of his discussion of philosophical cultivations of "literary" forms to include in addition the issues of creativity, influence and responsibility and the work of Lyotard and Levinas.'

Comparing Lyotard model of presentations, instants situated along a linear series, to Ereignis, the author writes:

Ereignis is not the continuous rising of new presentations even as each is effaced or retroactively determined or situated ('Being as being' according to Lyotard's reformulation). Ereignis is the continually self-differing relation of one to the other.

P. 61

And then quotes On the Way to Language.


Feminist Interpretations of Martin Heidegger. Edited and introductions by Nancy J. Holland and Patricia Huntington, University Park, Penn State University Press, 2001.


The Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger. Luce Irigaray, translated by Mary Beth Mader, Austin, University of Texas Press, 1999.


Given Time I. Counterfeit Money. Jacques Derrida, translated by Peggy Kamuf, University of Chicago Press, 1992.


Heidegger & Derrida, Reflections on Time and Language. Herman Rapaport, Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1989.

'As the spell of Jacques Derrida grows stronger, with more translations and analyses appearing every season, it is possible -- and necessary -- to determine what in his work is truly new and what continues philosophical and literary traditions. Although Martin Heidegger has been mentioned before as a precursor of deconstruction, Herman Rapaport is the first to develop the connection between the writings of the German philosopher and Derrida.

'Heidegger & Derrida discusses the French philosopher's adoption of certain Heideggerean themes and his extension or overturning of them. But Rapaport does more than show how deconstruction builds on the philosophical foundations laid by Heidegger (and also by Hegel, Nietzsche, and Freud). In the most comprehensive study of Derrida's works to date, he tackles the problem of writing an intellectual history about a figure who has put into question the possibility of such a construction and acknowledges Derrida's concerns with Jewish history in relation to Western thought.'


Heidegger and Derrida on Philosophy and Metaphor: Imperfect Thought. Giuseppe Stellardi, Amherst, Humanity Books, 2000.

'The relationship between metaphor and philosophy is the main focus of this engrossing study by continental philosopher Giuseppe Stellardi. Three separately identifiable, but strictly interconnected, thematic directions are explored: (1) the theory of metaphor; (2) the theory of philosophical discourse; and (3) a close analysis of texts by Heidegger and Derrida for what they reveal about both metaphor and philosophical discourse. The works of these two specific philosophers are examined for a number of reasons: first, they attract questions that inevitably concern the meaning of philosophy itself; second, they make fundamental points concerning metaphor and its relationship to philosophy; third, the particular quality of their language is closely related to poetic discourse; and fourth, the relationship of their texts to metaphor give them an essential quality that can provisionally be described as "incompleteness."' 'Stellardi also includes a discussion of the fundamental debate on metaphor between Derrida and Ricoeur and a detailed examination of philosophy as a "mode of discourse" among (and in relation to) others. The result is an idea of philosophy as essentially imperfect and self-destructive, and yet indispensable in the economy of the modes of discourse.'


Heidegger and Modernity. Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut, translated by Franklin Philip, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1990.

'The French publication of Victor Farias's Heidegger et le Nazisme unleashed a storm of controversy with its comprehensive documentation of Martin Heidegger's personal involvement with the Nazi movement and its reflection in the antihumanism and antidemocratic quality of his philosophy. In the national press, many articles rife with intellectual and emotional appeals took up both sides of the issue.

'In Heidegger and Modernity, Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut investigate this fiery debate. Indeed, the authors argue, the defensive reactions that Farias provoked are of as much interest as the accusations themseleves. Often with great ingenuity, French Heideggerians of many stripes rallied to dismiss and denigrate attempts to reopen Heidegger's political past. Beginning with the pointed question -- Why have they refused to desacralize such a blatantly antidemocratic body of theory? -- Ferry and Renaut offer an intelligent, incisive, and biting analysis of the attempts by Derrida, Lacoue-Labarthe, and other disciples of Heidegger to defend and salvage the man and his thoughts.

'The authors argue that with the discrediting of Marxism, Heidegger's work represents an intellectual refuge to the French Left: an authoritative body of thought critical of both Eastern totalitarianism and the mass society of the West. Yet, as Ferry and Renaut reveal, Heidegger's critique of modernity is flawed by irresolvable ambiguities. The authors explore the relationship in Heideggerian thought between "the forgetfulness of Being," Descartes's "metaphysics of subjectivity,' and the triumph of technology.

'Since Heidegger's diagnosis of modernity considers technology, consumerism, and mass society, but neglects democratic institutions and legal rights, Ferry and Renaut ultimately accuse Heidegger himself of forgetfulness about the complexity of modern society. They insist that the French Left can find no sanctuary in Heidegger, for his philosophy denies to humanity the will and mastery that make democratic humanism possible. This first English translation of Heidegger and Modernity is certain to stimulate wide debate in the English-speaking world.'


Margins of Philosophy. Jacques Derrida, translated by Alan Bass, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1982.
"Ousia and Gramme: Note on a Note from Being and Time";
"The Ends of Man".

In a footnote to Différance Derrida distinguishes différance from ontological difference and Ereignis.

Différance is not a "species" of the genus ontological difference. If the "gift of presence is the property of Appropriating," différance is not a process of propriation in any sense whatever. It is neither position (appropriation) nor negation (expropriation), but rather other. Hence it seems--but here, rather, we are marking the necessity of a future itinerary--that différance would be no more a species of the genus Ereignis than Being. Heidegger: "...then Being belongs into Appropriating. Giving and its gift receive their determination from Appropriating. In that case, Being would be a species of Appropriation (Ereignis), and not the other way around. To take refuge in such an inversion would be too cheap. Such thinking misses the matter at stake. Appropriation (Ereignis) is not encompassing general concept under which Being and time could be subsumed. Logical classifications mean nothing here. For as we think Being itself and follow what is its own, Being proves to be destiny's gift of presence, the gift granted by the giving of time. The gift of presence is the property of Appropriating."

P. 26

All quotes above are from On Time and Being.


Of Derrida, Heidegger, and Spirit. Edited by David Wood, Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University Press, 1993.


Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question. Jacques Derrida, translated by Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1989.

'"I shall speak of ghost, of flame, and of ashes." These are the first words of Jacques Derrida's lecture on Heidegger. It is again a question of Nazism in general and of Heidegger's Nazism in particular. It is also "politics of spirit" which at the time people thought -- they still want to today -- to oppose to the inhuman.'


The Poetics of Resistance: Heidegger's Line. Michael Roth, Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University Press, 1996.

'The Poetics of Resistance: Heidegger's Line is a well-informed, carefully written, and detailed treatment of the political implications of Heidegger's philosophy in its Derridean acceptation. It argues that what Heidegger calls poetic dwelling -- an element of Heidegger's later thinking often ignored by his more vehement critics -- is at once disruptive (of the smooth functioning of technology) and community-founding. To engage in such thoughtful, poetic dwelling is, in one of Heidegger's famous phrases, to "cross the line." Roth argues, with Derrida against Heidegger, that crossing this line, is not a move into irrationalism (to say nothing of National Socialism); and he argues, with Heidegger against Derrida, that crossing the line, successful resistance, is not impossible. Grounded in the classics of German scholarship but reaching out to its creative appropriation in postmodernism, The Poetics of Resistance makes an important and timely contribution to the recuperation of a political philosophy from postmodernity.'

The author does a good job of explaining several areas of Heidegger's way of thinking. Here's a little of the description of Ereignis.

Ereignis is a common word in German, where it means "event", "occurrence," or "incident." Something is always happening. Ereignis is "what happened"; it is used much like Geschehen. No doubt, Heidegger is aware of the everydayness of this word and it is precisely because of it that he adapts it to the specialized sense that it has in his work. Heidegger writes in a fragment of "The Principle of Identity" that was not included in the English translation by Stambaugh:


A rough English rendering is: "The word 'Ereignis' is taken from natural language. Originally er-eignen means [N.B. Coming to pass calls or evokes originally]: er-äugen, that is to say, er-blicken, to see or catch sight of, to call to oneself in looking, an-eignen, to en-own, ap-propriate." This fragment defies translation. It is no wonder Stambaugh left it out.

P. 37

Ereignis is related to eigen, meaning "own and "proper" with clear connotations of eigentum meaning "property" or "a possession." Ereignis is also related to ereigen meaning "to prove" or "to show" in the sense of a demonstration (Grimm's lists it as the Latin monstrare). And lastly, it is related to eignen, meaning "suitable" or "appropriate" where appropriate may be understood both as "proper" and as "to acquire." Along with all these connotations, Ereignis must also be thought as "event" and it is usually translated as "event of appropriation" so as to reflect some of these relationships. In the event of Ereignis, entities are brought forth into their own, becoming what they are. Bearing these multiple meanings in mind, reading some of Heidegger's writing on the matter should help.

P. 38



Points . . .: Interviews, 1974-1994. Jacques Derrida, edited by Elisabeth Weber, translated by Peggy Kamuf and others, Stanford University Press, 1995.


Positions. Jacques Derrida, translated by Alan Bass, University of Chicago Press, 1981.

This thin volume contains three interviews where Derrida provides extended responses to questions raised by his early texts. Answering a question about his study of Heidegger, Derrida notes the difficulty around Ereignis.

I have marked quite explicitly, in all the essays I have published, as can be verified, a departure from the Heideggeran problematic. This departure is related particularly to the concepts of origin and fall of which we were just speaking. And, among other places, I have analyzed it as concerns time, "the transcendental horizon of the question of Being," in Being and Time, that is, at a strategically decisive point. This departure also, and correlatively, intervenes as concerns the value proper (propriety, propriate, appropriation, the entire family of Eigentlichkeit, Eigen, Ereignis) which is perhaps the most continuous and most difficult thread of Heidegger's thought.

P. 54


Specters of Marx The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International. Jacques Derrida, translated by Peggy Kamuf, London, Routledge, 1994.


The Telephone Book Technology, Schizophrenia, Electric Speech. Avital Ronell, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1989.


Thinking after Heidegger. David Wood, Cambridge, Polity, 2002.

If philosophy ends with Heidegger, what to think next? David Wood reaches back to the Greeks, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Husserl, and then forward with Adorno and Derrida, amongst many others, to find his answer.

Divided into three parts, the first begins with What is Metaphysics? and examines the predicament for philosphy. The second part examines Heidegger in relation to Hegel's dialectic and Nietzsche's eternal recurrence of the same, and Derrida's extensions of Heidegger's thinking. The third part continues with Derrida's thoughts on humanism and animals, and concludes with reflections on the Beitrage. And not only that, many more themes and connections are made. Wide ranging and with a certain playfulness, this well written book invites us to think alongside.

In the book, various facets of Ereignis are discussed, including Derrida's examination of the etymological chain leading to Ereignis in Positions.

First, it does not seem to me sufficient to treat the movement from Eigentlichkeit to Ereignis, say, as one of displacement, in which 'the same' concern is being handed on from word to word. That does not seem to account for the radical dropping of the term Eigentlichkeit after Being and Time, not for Heidegger's own account of the provisionality of his formulation in Being and Time. In fact even the notion of authenticity has such an abyssal dimension in Being and Time as to diturb rather than confirm or sustain any form of self-present self-satisfaction. The term is nevertheless dropped, and it is open to question quite how seriously to take an etymological chain. The word 'Ereignis' in Contributions and in On Time and Being seems to me to operate at a rather different level and in a different way.

P. 98

book - Paperback

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Created 1995/5/26
Last updated 2011/04/09