The futile search for the non-mental: Derrida’s critique of metaphysics

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The futile search for the non-mental: Derrida’s critique of metaphysics

Peter Salmon

Quote:Peter Salmon discusses Jacques Derrida’s critique of metaphysics: the argument that finding some objective, ‘uncontaminated,’ pure presence of being or reality in the world is impossible, for all of our experiences of the world are determined by our own mental contexts, our conceptual dictionaries, memories and expectations. However, the attentive reader will notice that, in criticizing metaphysics this way, far from refuting it, Derrida may actually make a case for idealism: the recognition that our reality isn’t just contaminated by the mental, but is mental in essence and being; for “the distinction between essence and existence, and between the ideal and the real (‘whatness’ and ‘thatness’) are illusions.” This essay is part of our The Return of Metaphysics series, produced in collaboration with the Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI). It was first published by the IAI on the 30th of March, 2022.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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