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Jacques Derrida Never Wrote about Law

Jacques Derrida Never Wrote about Law

(p.105) 5 Jacques Derrida Never Wrote about Law
Administering Interpretation
Pierre Legrand
Fordham University Press

This essay examines key aspects of Jacques Derrida’s thinking about law. After probing Derrida’s anti-foundationalism, the text claims that Derrida’s appreciation of law was always effectively an understanding of droit. The further argument is that Derrida’s deconstructive strategy is haunted by the latent presence of the only droit with which he was familiar, French law, which would have manifested itself to him in the standard form of a particularly persistent, uncompromising, and indeed crude version of positivism well-known to comparativists and at variance with the mainstream views prevailing in the anglophone world where the common-law tradition obtains. Ultimately, this essay challenges every single interpretation of Derrida in English translation whenever Derrida’s readers have reflexively assumed that the word “law” meant “law” as usually understood in the anglophone world. In fact, in Derrida’s work “law” never carried that meaning, for Derrida was only ever acquainted with droit. And since he always wrote in French, he never had anything in mind but droit. Specifically, Jacques Derrida never wrote about law.

Keywords:   deconstruction, Derrida, French, interpretation, law

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