The Deconstructive Thinking

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The deconstructive thinking is characterised by its mission to identify other ways in which a subject could be interpreted, perceived, developed, embraced, which have previously not been considered.


“A philosophical movement and theory of literary criticism that questions traditional assumptions about certainty, identity, and truth; asserts that words can only refer to other words; and attempts to demonstrate how statements about any text subvert their own meanings: In deconstruction, the critic claims there is no meaning to be found in the actual text, but only in the various, often mutually irreconcilable, ‘virtual texts’ constructed by readers in their search for meaning” []

The term deconstruction is made up of two words de + construction and therefore it presents a movement in which elements of related topics, works, phenomena are unfolded and reconstructed.

The pioneer of the deconstructive movement is considered to be the French philosopher Jacques Derrida and his voice starting to echo in the mid-seventies.

Deconstruction has often been considered to embrace the objective of destroying past knowledge accumulated throughout the centuries of human existence.

Derrida’s answer to the above-mentioned claims is that the principle of deconstruction is not in dismantling related issues in order to diminish an established theory.

But on the contrary to general perceptions, Derrida refers to Deconstruction as means of enriching and supplementing an acknowledged assessment with additional values.

According to Derrida, this process of reinterpretation in a new mode itself constitutes authentic creativity.

“To go after (architecture): not in order to attack, destroy or deroute it, to criticise or disqualify it. Rather, in order to think it in fact, to detach itself sufficiently to apprehend it in a thought which goes beyond the theorem – and becomes a work in its turn” [Jacques Derrida on page XVII of Rethinking Architecture]

But the nature of deconstructive thinking is not to set out to destroy what has been taught in the past but instead to develop and revisit those values by analysing them in detail, hence the description deconstruction.

As Marc Auge explains there are no sides to worship or hate, no prototypes to follow no rule to break presents the anthem of our age, the age of postmodernism.

“The general findings also corresponds to the decline of the Sartrean and Marxist references of the early post-war period, which held that in the final analysis, the universal was the truth of the specific; and to call the rise of what (along with many others) we might call the post-modern sensibility, the belief that one mode is worth the same as another, the patchwork of modes signifying the erasure of modernity as the end product of an evolution resembling progress.” [Marc Auge, on page 26 of Non-Places]

Whereas in the past, most architects were devoted to the construction of walls, floors, ceilings, living room, bathroom, and bedrooms, deconstruction is concerned with the in-between of those already established attachments of the house more than dealing with issues that have already been established.

In philosophy, the matter under the spotlight has evolved around providing generalised answers to questions troubling humanity, and most of us were accustomed to establishing something as true or definite, whereas deconstructive thinking scans through those predetermined thoughts and values by challenging them to be interpreted in a new form.

Michael Ryan’s diagnosis of the deconstructive movement offers more insight into the subject by describing it as investigative of the dominant principles applied in the widely accepted movements.

“Deconstruction is a philosophical interrogation of some of the major concepts and practices of philosophy.” [Michael Ryan on page 1 of Marxism and Deconstruction: A Critical Articulation]

It analyses previously established macroscopic issues through microscopic lenses focusing in detail, adding new values that modernists kept undermining as trivial and has discarded them.

Derrida’s strategy has been considered by many to be one of the destruction of the past ideologies, because it lies in the questioning and reevaluating of the perceived absolutists structures or notions.

“The movements of deconstruction do not destroy structure from the outside. They are not possible and effective, nor can they take accurate aim, except by inhabiting those structures. Inhabiting them in a certain way, because one always inhabits, and all the more when one does not suspect it. Operating necessarily from the inside, borrowing all the strategic and economic resources of subversion from the old structure, borrowing them structurally, that is to say without being able to isolate their elements and atoms, the enterprise of deconstruction always in a certain ways falls prey to its own work.” [Jacques Derrida on page 24 of Of Grammatology]

The very existence of deconstruction liaises with the actual presence of normative thinking and if the claims of its destructive nature are true then this could pose a threat to Derrida’s concept.

How can it pursue its interrogative discourse when, by destroying them in the process, it no longer has any scene left to investigate?

Furthermore, to ascertain the non-destructive nature of deconstruction, Derrida in “Of Grammatology”, has affirmed that the deconstructive movement acknowledges certain established views.

It does not carry the tendency of destructing but in looking for different ways of non-customary forms of recuperating it.

The argument is that the featured discourse inhabits the established structures in order to look for ways for it to be complemented with an improving aim.

In the year 1981, Barbara Johnson wrote The Critical Difference, whereby she convincingly distances destruction from deconstruction.

“Deconstruction is not synonymous with “destruction”, however. It is in fact much closer to the original meaning of the word “analysis” itself, which etymologically means “to undo” a virtual synonym for “to de-construct” … If anything is destroyed in a deconstructive reading, it is not the text, but the claim to unequivocal domination of one mode of signifying over another. A deconstructive reading is a reading which analyses the specificity of a text’s critical difference from itself.”  []

Johnson rejects the perception of deconstruction at work similar to a bulldozer on a derelict site. On the contrary, she portrays the deconstructive approach as an analytical device exploring the possibilities for improvements.

Therefore, the deconstructive thinking is characterised by its mission to identify other ways in which a subject could be interpreted, perceived, developed, embraced, which have previously not been considered.

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