Posted in Philosophy

Exploring the philosophy of Jacques Derrida – Deconstruction and Post-structuralism

I have listened to the first part of the video on the French philosopher Jacques Derrida so far, whose worldviews I found to be intriguing and thoughtful. The English subtitles in the video helped me to understand and digest his system of thoughts better too, fortunately and thankfully. I noted from Wikipedia that he “developed a form of semiotic analysis known as deconstruction. His work was labeled as post-structuralism and associated with postmodern philosophy.”

This reminds me of the post-graduate studies on “post-structural thought” that Peter Rollins shared about in his interview regarding his new book “The idolatory of God”. My understanding of “post-structuralism” is that it is meant to deconstruct the structures that have been put in place by earlier philosophers, linguists and so on, so as to understand the abstractness and the mysteries (or mysticism, if I may describe it) of reality better.

“Post-structuralism is a response to structuralism. Structuralism is an intellectual movement developed in Europe from the early to mid-20th century. It argued that human culture may be understood by means of a structure—modeled on language (i.e., structural linguistics)—that differs from concrete reality and from abstract ideas—a “third order” that mediates between the two.[4] Post-structuralist authors all present different critiques of structuralism, but common themes include the rejection of the self-sufficiency of the structures that structuralism posits and an interrogation of the binary oppositions that constitute those structures.”

(From Wikipedia)

In the video documentary, Derrida said “one of the gestures of deconstruction is not to naturalise what is not natural – to not assume that which is conditioned by history, institutions, or society is natural.”

Yes, perhaps all structural thoughts are subject to personal opinions – they only take shape over time and become widely accepted among those who study and assimilate the ideas into their own frame of thought about the world. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are always true or natural, so to speak. For example, I was reflecting that when it comes to energy healing, people have developed and formulated theories and techniques over the centuries, such as reiki, pranic healing, and so on. These forms of healing have their own structures and systems of thought, but in reality, they are just subjective opinions and experiences of those who experimented with different kinds of theories and techniques of healing, and came up with their own schools of thoughts or belief systems to explain how healing works. But essentially, they all originate from the same source, which is simply energy (or life force or ruah or prana or qi or some other names depending on the cultures).

The same pattern can be observed in other aspects of life, such as academic subjects (physics, chemistry, biology, geography and so on) and religions (in which theories/theologies about God, universe, etc, become widely accepted by certain groups of people and are institutionalised and formalised with their own creeds and doctrines/dogmas) – ultimately, all these fields of study and schools of thought are all subjective and relative (instead of objective and absolute) – they are constantly evolving with each generation of humankind (and with each new age/era of consciousness), in order to stay relevant to the cultures and experiences of people, individually and collectively.

In this particular segment of the video, Derrida said:

“Let me think. To go back to what we were saying earlier about seeing and touching, about seeing and speaking.. instead of getting enmeshed in a profound meditation on sight which I’ve written about and discussed at length elsewhere.

What interests me about the eyes is that they are part of the body that doesn’t age. In other words, if one looks for one’s childhood across all the signs of aging in the body, the deterioration of musculature, the whitening of the hair, changes in height and weight, one can find one’s childhood in the look of the eyes. And what’s striking about this is that a man of my age keeps exact same eyes that he had as a child.”

Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I noticed he has a twinkling of the eyes that remain youthful and energetic. I can relate to what he shared about finding a person’s childhood in the look of the eyes becayse I was reminded of a colleague who is about 50 years old, who works in the design and production team. I remember he has that youthful look – not only he looks slightly younger than his age, as if he was in his early 40s, he likes to crack jokes when conversing with people – his sense of wacky humour kept him young at heart. One time I noticed his eyes were twinkling like a child’s when he was conversing with me and another colleague during lunchtime. So yes, there is something about our eyes that retain the youthfulness and energy of our eternal, ageless spirit.

Derrida added:

“Hegel says that the eyes are the outer manifestation of the soul. Through the eyes, the inner soul presents itself to the outside.

But I translate this thought as follows: that one’s act of looking has no age. One’s eyes are the same all of one’s life.”

I learnt from Wikipedia that Hegel is a German philosopher who lived in the 1700-1800s and his “historicist and idealist account of relaity revolutionzed European philosophy”. If I remember correctly, Peter Rollins may have mentioned him in his blog comments during some discussions online with the commenters. Anyway, it is interesting to see the eyes as the outer manifestation of the soul. I remember coming across a similar quote that says our eyes are windows to our soul.

“The eyes are the window of the soul”….English Proverb.

I find the following quotes from this website interesting too, such as the French version “The eyes are the mirror of the soul”.

“A person’s thoughts can be ascertained by looking in his or her eyes. The proverb has been traced back in English to ‘Regiment of Life’ (1545). But the proverb was known much earlier. Cicero (106-43 B.C.) is quoted as saying, ‘Ut imago est animi voltus sic indices oculi’ (The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter). The L*tin proverbs, ‘Vultus est index animi’ or ‘Oculus animi index,’ are usually translated as ‘The face is the index of the mind.’ The French say, ‘Les yeux sont le miroir de l’dme (The eyes are the mirror of the soul). ‘The eyes are the window of the soul’ is a variant form of the proverb…” From “Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings” by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/41/messages/1097.html

It is called the ‘Third Eye’ which in reality, is the Pineal Gland. It is the Spiritual Third Eye, our Inner Vision, and it is considered the Seat of the Soul.

http://www.strayreality.com/Lanis_Strayreality/thirdtyepinealgland.htm

The pineal gland is a tiny organ in the center of the brain that played an important role in Descartes’ philosophy. He regarded it as the principal seat of the soul and the place in which all our thoughts are formed.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pineal-gland/#2

The eyes are the extended organs of the pineal gland.”

(From “Where did the phrase “The eyes are the windows to the soul” originate?“)

Yes, in a symbolic way, it could be said that our physical eyes are the extended organs of the pineal gland (our intuitve eye). We can see each other’s soul through looking into our physical eyes and understand each other’s heart through perceiving with our intuitive eye.

 

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I am a beloved child of Divine Love/Great Spirit, and so are you. We are spiritual beings on a human journey. My main interests in life include Nature, music, spirituality, inspiration, philosophy, sports, reading and photography.

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