Reading Derrida as a Critical Realist

I am becoming increasingly convinced that Derrida must be read as a critical realist, not as some pernicious denier of truth or purveyor of “creative anti-realism” or “cheerful nihilism.” Derrida himself bluntly denies the claim: “I am shocked by the debate around this question of relativism [….] If I want to pay attention to the singularity of the other, the singularity of the situation, the singularity of language, is that relativism? If I say that there is the English and the French language and I have to pay attention to these differences, is the attention paid to these differences relativism? [….] I take into account differences, but I am no relativist” (Hospitality, Justice and Responsibility, 78, 79). Perhaps there is a better way to read him, to read him closely, as Derrida himself would wish?: “So this charge against me amounts to obscurantism, and is issued by people who don’t read” (79).


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