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The Young Derrida and French Philosophy, 1945–1968


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Part of Ideas in Context

  • Date Published: January 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107674622


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About the Authors
  • In this powerful study Edward Baring sheds fresh light on Jacques Derrida, one of the most influential yet controversial intellectuals of the twentieth century. Reading Derrida from a historical perspective and drawing on new archival sources, The Young Derrida and French Philosophy shows how Derrida's thought arose in the closely contested space of post-war French intellectual life, developing in response to Sartrian existentialism, religious philosophy and the structuralism that found its base at the École Normale Supérieure. In a history of the philosophical movements and academic institutions of post-war France, Baring paints a portrait of a community caught between humanism and anti-humanism, providing a radically new interpretation of the genesis of deconstruction and of one of the most vibrant intellectual moments of modern times.

    • An intellectual history of the philosophies, institutions and movements of post-war France
    • A radical new interpretation of one of the most influential intellectuals of the twentieth century
    • Draws on a wide range of new archival sources
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    • Winner of the Journal of the History of Ideas' 2011 Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the best book in intellectual history

    Reviews & endorsements

    'In The Young Derrida, we find a careful reconstruction of the intellectual and political climate in which Jacques Derrida developed his famous idea of deconstruction. In particular, Baring shows us how the development of deconstruction is involved in the history of humanism in postwar France going up to the May '68 uprisings. Indeed, Baring's readings of Derrida's early books on Husserl's phenomenology are exemplary. With an elegance rarely seen, Edward Baring has managed to weave cultural history with philosophy. The Young Derrida is a magnificent book.' Leonard Lawlor, Sparks Professor of Philosophy, Pennsylvania State University

    'Drawing on a wealth of previously untapped sources and displaying a sure-handed command of postwar French philosophy and theology, Edward Baring presents us with a new and arresting interpretation of Derrida's origins. Contrary to conventional wisdom, he was far more enmeshed in Christian antihumanist thought than its Jewish counterpart, and retained many of its premises through all the changes of idiom in his later work. The Young Derrida masterfully exemplifies the power of intellectual history to illuminate even the darkest corners of philosophical development.' Martin Jay, Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor, University of California, Berkeley

    'It is hard to imagine this work being superseded as an intellectual biography of Jacques Derrida, and indeed of post-war French intellectual history, up to the May '68 uprisings.' Patrick Madigan, The Heythrop Journal

    '… complex, learned … [an] erudite book.' Jonathan Judaken, The Journal of Modern History

    'The Derrida that Baring reconstructs is not the one we thought we knew. His reconstruction is so persuasive that the book succeeds in revising interpretations that have become truisms in Derrida scholarship … The book impresses at every level … Baring is diligent at getting things right.' Carolyn Dean, Modern Intellectual History

    '[An] exciting reinterpretation of Derrida's early years.' Emile Chabal, Books and Ideas

    '[This] is an outstanding historical account. The book combines a comprehensively informed sensitivity for the context with a masterly knowledge of Derrida's thought and the broader intellectual field in which he worked. Baring's work succeeds not only in enriching enormously our knowledge of Derrida's environment in those formative years of his philosophical development. With his artful philosophical readings, that are closely entwined with a contextual history of ideas, it changes our understanding of his thought.' Warren Breckman, translated from Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107674622
    • length: 350 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Derrida Post-Existentialist:
    1. Humanist pretensions: Catholics, Communists and Sartre's struggle for existentialism in post-war France
    2. Derrida's 'Christian' existentialism
    3. Normalization: the École Normale Supérieure and Derrida's turn to Husserl
    4. Genesis as a problem: Derrida reading Husserl
    5. The God of mathematics: Derrida and the origin of geometry
    Part II. Between Phenomenology and Structuralism:
    6. A history of différance
    7. L'ambiguité du concours: the deconstruction of commentary and interpretation in Speech and Phenomena
    8. The ends of man: reading and writing at the ENS

  • Author

    Edward Baring, Drew University, New Jersey
    Edward Baring is Assistant Professor of Modern European Intellectual and Cultural History at Drew University. Educated at the University of Cambridge and Harvard University, his work was awarded the Harold K. Gross Prize by Harvard University in 2010. He has won fellowships from the DAAD, ACLS and Mellon Foundation.


    • Winner of the Journal of the History of Ideas' 2011 Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the best book in intellectual history

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