Jacques Derrida Biography

(French Philosopher Who Developed the Philosophical Approach Known as 'Deconstruction')

Birthday: July 15, 1930 (Cancer)

Born In: El Biar, Algeria

Jacques Derrida was one of the most significant French philosophers of the 20th century. He is best-remembered for developing a method of semiotic examination known as ‘deconstruction’. He is one of the pioneers of post-structuralism and postmodern philosophy. Throughout his career, he authored more than 40 books and has written over hundreds of essays. He published a number of articles for ‘Tel Quel’, a periodical that stressed on the experimental theory. With his contribution, he left an indelible mark in the field of philosophy. Some of his highly influential works include ‘Of Grammatology’, ‘Writing and Difference’ and ‘Dissemination’. ‘Deconstruction’, the movement that he found, went on to evoke equal quantities of criticism and admiration and also went on to incite one of the most argumentative theoretical discussions of the twentieth century. Many of the theories that he introduced in his works are vital in discussions that are centered on ontology, epistemology, social sciences, aesthetics, ethics, hermeneutics, art, architecture and music. Although his method to philosophy and his mechanisms made him a contentious figure, he was revered by a number of his contemporaries, nevertheless.
Quick Facts

French Celebrities Born In July

Also Known As: Jackie Élie Derrida

Died At Age: 74


Spouse/Ex-: Marguerite Aucouturier

father: Georgette Sultana Esther Safar

mother: Aimé Derrida (1896–1970)

children: Pierre Alféri

Born Country: Algeria

Quotes By Jacques Derrida Philosophers

Died on: October 9, 2004

place of death: Paris, France

Ancestry: Algerian French

Diseases & Disabilities: Pancreatic Cancer

Cause of Death: Pancreatic Cancer

More Facts

education: Harvard University, University Of Paris, École Normale Supérieure

Childhood & Early Life
Jacques Elie Derrida was the third of the five children born to Haim Aaron Prosper Charles Derrida and Georgette Sultana Esther Safar in El Biar, French Algeria. He was of Sephardic-Jewish descent.
He was debarred from his lycee (secondary school) on the first day after French officers executed anti-Semitic allocations by the Vichy administration. He avoided school for a year and partook in a number of football competitions instead, as he dreamt of becoming a professional football player.
In his teenage years, he found great solace in the works of philosophers such as Rousseau, Nietzsche and Gide. He completed his master’s degree in Philosophy, following which he received a scholarship to study at Harvard University from 1956 to 1957.
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From 1957 to 1959, he taught the English language and the French to the children of soldiers, in lieu military service. The next year, he was appointed to teach philosophy at the Sorbonne, where he also worked as an assistant to Suzanne Bachelard.
He began to teach permanently at the Ecole Normale Superieure in 1964; a position he kept for the next twenty years.
He became linked with a group of intellectuals and philosophical theorists who were collectively known as ‘Tel Quel’. On October 21, 1966, he presented a lecture at John Hopkins University titled ‘Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences’. This shot him to worldwide prominence.
He printed the first of his three books, ‘Writing and Difference’ in 1967. The same year, he published ‘Speech and Phenomena: And Other Essays on Husserl’s Theory of Signs’ and his best-known work ‘Of Grammatology’.
He continued to produce a number of significant works such as ‘Glas’, in 1974 and ‘The Post Card: From Socrates to Frued and Beyond’, six years later. During this time, he was also one of the intelligentsias who signed the requisition ‘against age of consent laws’.
In 1983, he co-founded the College international de philosophe along with Francois Chatelet and was selected as the establishment’s first head. Three years later, he was appointed as the Professor of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine, where he taught till just before his death.
One of his most important lectures titled, ‘Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question’ was published in October 1987.
Till the time of his death, he was a visiting professor for a number of universities such as John Hopkins University, New York University, European Graduate School, Yale University and Stony Brook University.
In 1990, all of his writings were assembled in a book called ‘On the Right to Philosophy’. The next year, he published ‘The Other Heading’, in which he deliberated the notion of individuality.
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In 1993, he published an overtly autobiographical publication titled, ‘Circumfession’.
In 1999, he participated in a biographical biopic, ‘D’ailleurs, Derrida’ and then again in 2002 he was once again seen in a documentary titled ‘Derrida’.
Many of the papers he wrote through his life were all compiled and collected into a publication titled ‘The Work of Mourning’, which was published in 2001.
Major Works
Derrida published three books in 1967 that charted this important philosophical ideology. The book are: ‘Speech and Phenomena’, ‘Of Grammatology’ and ‘Writing and Difference’. In these three books, he investigated and evaluated Western Philosophy. This was by far his most important inputs in philosophy and is also considered some of the best works on Edmund Husserl and the ‘phenomenology’. These three publications collectively established his status and projected him to international prominence.
Awards & Achievements
He was bestowed honorary doctorates by the Columbia University, University of Essex, University of Silesia and The New School for Social Research.
He was presented the ‘Theodor Adorno Prize’, in 2001.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1957, he married psychoanalyst, Marguerite Aucouturier. They had two sons together.
In 1985, he fathered a son from Sylviana Agacinski.
Shortly before his death, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which ultimately took his life. He died on October 9, 2004.
Many of the authors and personalities who have been widely influenced by his theory of deconstruction include Helene Cixous, Jean-Luc Nancy, Richard Rorty, Rosalind Krauss, Gary Peller, Alan Hunt and Hayden White, to name a few.
In 1983, this reputed French philosopher collaborated with Ken McCullen for the film, ‘Ghost Dance’. He was seen in the film himself and he also contributed to the script of the film.

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