Thursday, February 12

French Deconstruction

It is interesting how post modernism and deconstruction are so often associated with French Culture. Indeed the two main Post Modern Philosopher are French (Derrida and Foucault) Yet that's all you will get as French Post Modern Culture.
Truth is that they are only know in France by an "Intellectual Elite" and mostly from Political Sciences circles.
Actually for French people, and I mean well educated French, Postmodern philosophy is not known at all, not even discussed. They just do not bother to learn about it.
Actually they are still more concern about Decartes.

This morning at work I was amused in how one of my colleges played so often with his French words and I said "I like the way you deconstruct your own language." Every body around me (all French) laughed thinking I had just invented a new word.
They were very surprised to know (through Wikipedia) that the word actually existed in French .

What is interesting too is the Wikipedia French definition of "Déconstruction"

"La déconstruction est une méthode, voire une école, de la philosophie contemporaine. etc etc ect "

At first, no association at all with the Post Modern school. (Neither the English version does) Later, it says that Heidegger uses it and only at the end it says that it is Derrida who systematizes it. Yet it does explain that "deconstruction" was associated to Post Modernism in US as well as the British Analytic Philosophy.

".... obtint une grande notoriété aux États-Unis, où il est assimilé à la philosophie postmoderne,"

Otherwise the French article does not associates it at all to French main philosophies, it only fills hardly three pages and it gives very few references. Yet the English wikipedia article, an impressive and complete essay, fills almost 20 pages and gives us so many references.

Post Modern culture and deconstruction are not part of French life, and even well educated French scholars ignore it or understated it in a different way as The English cultures do.

For example the Woody Allen Film "Deconstructing Harry" was translated in French "Harry dans tous ses états" something like "Harry in all his moods" so it could make sense to French auditors. Woddy Allen is loved and admired in France, but "deconstruction"... well it is just ignored.

So when I say that I am Post Modern Protestant in Paris, it may not mean what you think it means, or perhaps it does. You better deconstruct it.

For another similar experience read here


  1. wow. Very interesting. I am especially interested to hear how deconstruction is disconnected from french culture. Also, could you expand on what you mean by the french scholars basically ignoring deconstruction? Finally, i have written some on how postmodernism/deconstruction relates to biblical authority. Love to hear your feedback:

  2. Thanks Kurt for your comment,
    Good question and very difficult answer. Post modernity and deconstruction are more concern with finding new questions. A traditional country as France is more concern in living the moment and finding absolute answers rather than new questions. So you see Post Modernism is far from captivating French Culture. And Scholars see deconstruction only as on more tool of one of new philosphies. Here all Historical Phylosophies are very seriously treated. Trust me answering you question is very difficult.(you may read the link I just added at the end of the post) The fact is that if French culture has not assimilated neither Post Modern thought, nor deconstruction, Christian Protestant (and evangelical) Culture here, does not even know it exists.
    I will try to answer your question in another post. Give me time to organize my thoughts.
    Otherwise I like your Blog and I just added it to "Blogs I read"
    Hope to read you soon,


  3. This is Lue-Yee. I’ve found you.