J.E. de Jong

This dissertation explores why Derrida, Hegel and Heidegger conceive of the essence of their work in terms of a movement, development or pathway rather than in terms of its claims or conclusions. What would it mean to criticize such a discourse, and how can its own critical force be understood?

This dissertation offers a new reading of Derrida’s De la grammatologie and a reconsideration of deconstruction’s relation to empiricism, skepticism and critique. The ‘movement’ of Derrida’s texts is what elevates their critical status above the mere polemic of defense and refutation, but also implies what I call a “structural vulnerability”. New interpretations of Hegel and Heidegger are provided by focusing on Hegel’s insight that what exceeds reflection is “its own movement” and – through an extensive reading of Heidegger’s Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis) – on Heidegger’s attempt to arrive at a saying “that is itself the to-be-said”. Inextricably bound to the very oppositionality they attempt to exceed, the confrontation of these three thinkers brings out the performativity that makes them locate the heart of their thinking in its development, movement or pathway, rather than in its positive results or conclusions. This enables understanding Derrida’s explicit opposition to Hegel and Heidegger as merely one among many strategic resources he employs in reading them. This dissertation shows the reflexive strictures that necessitate this ‘indirect’ approach, and the affirmative responsibility that motivates it.

The Movement of Thinking is an investigation into the need to proceed ‘indirectly’ in philosophy, and enquires into the critical force of a discourse that “avoids the grounds on which it could find support”.

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