Philosophical Influences on Poststructuralism

Unlike structuralism that derived from linguistics, poststructuralism owes its origin to philosophy, which as a discipline, always tends to emphasise the difficulty in achieving complete and secure knowledge about things. This point is encapsulated in Nietzsche’s famous remark: “There are no facts, only interpretations”. Poststructuralism inherits the sceptical nature of philosophy that undercuts and questions commonsensical notions and assumptions. The stalwart of poststructuralism, Derrida, himself a philosopher, has been immensely influenced by iconoclastic philosopher of 19th century, like Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Freud. Many of his writing have been on the work of these philosophers, His earliest work was a book length introduction to Husserl’s The Origin of Geometry. Speech and Phenomena also dealt largely with phenomenology, while Of Spirit deals directly with Heidegger. Further, Heidegger’s legacy can be traced in the Derridean parlance, “deconstruction”, which is inspired from Heideggers concept of “destruktion”.

The psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud was yet another important influence on Derrida, as evident in The Post Card, important essays in Writing and Difference, Archive Works and others. The work of Nietzsche is another forerunner of deconstruction in its form and substance, as Derrida writes in Spurs: Nietzsche’s Styles. The structuralism of Ferdinand de Saussure and other forms of poststructuralism that evolved contemporaneously with deconstruction (such as the work of Maurice Blanchot, Michel Foucault, Althusser, Lacan and so on) were the immediate intellectual climate for the formation of deconstruction.


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  1. The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche | Literary Theory and Criticism

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