Thursday, December 6, 2012
Deconstruction is an interesting idea. Or rather, an interesting way to play with ideas. However, I think it has mostly turned into a way to avoid ideas-- or more importantly, a way of neutralizing moral claims. You like Thomas Jefferson's "wall of separation" quote but don't like his ideas of liberty applied to fiscal matters? Bring up that he was a slave-owner. You like Jesus as some kind of hippy social reformer but don't like some other things he said? Eh, he probably never said 'em (and religion is lame anyway). Ad hominem, there is always some alleged motivation to dispel the solemnity of any formidable idea. Or, as Martin Gardner suggested (quoting Mencken), you can just skip to the "horse laugh." Deconstruct sincerity into bombasticity, love into sex, ambition into greed, affection into social "transactions," humans into automata. At what point do we deconstruct deconstruction into mere narcissism?
This is not to say that everything deconstructive is intellectually lazy. But so little seems to be motivated by insight that it's neither philosophy nor method for most, but something more akin to chemical dependency. Also, there is the simple fact that deconstruction requires something constructive to begin with--it's very dependency will border on the parasitic without a certain amount of humility.