Derrida: Great thinker of 'our time'

French philosopher questions what we mean when we talk about time
Jacques Derrida

The incomparable Nicholas Royle argues why we might be living in a Derridean 'epoch':
If [Jacques] Derrida is the great thinker of ‘our time’, it is because he is concerned with a questioning and rethinking of what the term ‘epoch’ or the phrase ‘our time’ could or should mean. He is concerned with the notion of the untimely, with trying to elucidate Hamlet’s haunting proposition: ‘The time is out of joint’ (1.5.196). Above all, Derrida treats terms such as ‘epoch’ and ‘our time’ with considerable suspicion. Thus, thinkers such as Kierkegaard and Nietzsche are important to him because they are, as he puts it, ‘thinkers of the untimely, who begin by putting into question the interpretation of history as development, in which something that is contemporary to itself – self-contemporary – can succeed something that is past’ (A Taste for the Secret, p. 6). What Derrida shares with Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, and with Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is ‘a certain malaise about belonging to a time, to our time – the difficulty of saying “our time”’ (TS 7). As he asserts at the heart of Of Grammatology: ‘To make enigmatic what one thinks one understands by the words “proximity”, “immediacy” [and] “presence” … is my final intention in this book’ (Of Grammatology, p.70).

Nicholas Royle, Jacques Derrida
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