Reference : Law and Deconstruction
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Law and Deconstruction
Van Der Walt, Johan Willem Gous mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance (FDEF) > Law Research Unit >]
Research Handbook on Critical Legal Theory
Goldoni, Marco
Christodoulidis, Emilios
Dukes, Ruth
Edward Elgar
United Kingdom
[en] Deconstruction ; Critical Legal Studies ; Jacques Derrida
[en] The explication of "deconstruction" put forward in this short essay seeks to recover the radicality of the idea of deconstruction that Jacques Derrida developed in his writings. It does so by uncoupling “deconstruction” from the law and from any attempt to employ it in the service of better or "more just" law. Although Derrida was undoubtedly committed to any political or epistemological strategy that could lead to improvements of law that would render it "more just" from a by and large social democratic point of view, it would be a mistake to believe that he considered strategies of deconstruction employable or necessary for such purposes. Notwithstanding the fact that he sometimes produced phrases or passages that seem to call for an employment of deconstruction for purposes of making the law more just, he evidently considered the aim of deconstruction, more rigorously understood, an endeavour to precipitate an experience with “an outside” which dominant social and textual discourses programmatically expel from experience. Derrida insisted that it is impossible to know whether this “soliciting” of an experience with the “outside” would be beneficial or useful. The moment that benefit or utility enters any calculation, one can be sure that the “outside” that he contemplated with recourse to key concepts in his work such as “justice”, “event”, “gift” and “hospitality”, has already again disappeared from one’s scope of scrutiny. What legal theory gains from Derrida’s contemplation of deconstruction is therefore not a method with which one can endeavour to make the law more just, more hospitable, readier to take a chance with the event, more orientated to the gift, etc., but a profound and rigorous understanding of how the suppression of justice, hospitality, the event and the gift is constitutive of law.

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