Deconstructive Philosophies Are A Waste of Time

The fact is deconstructive philosophies are a waste of time.  But so what?  What makes us think there is time to waste?  In this entry, I will discuss the merits of time wasting within deconstructive philosophers.

When I talk of deconstructive philosophies, I mean to generalize over a style of philosophizing that features the following characteristics:
1) A vocabulary is introduced in order to discuss a particular group of concepts that can be applied critically, or used positively, in order to articulate a critical methodology or ideology, i.e. a lens to understand reality or its phenomena
2) The methods employed from the vocabulary introduced breaks down other critical methodologies or ideologies.  That is, they are subsumed within the methodology of the vocabulary.
3) The methods are applied to the methodology itself, and as a result it leaves nothing left to discuss, i.e. it eliminates from significance/existence any reality or phenomena to discuss.

So as an activity, (2) is the bread and butter of deconstructive ideologies.  Seemingly any phenomena that is presented to deconstructive ideologies under (2) will get the Treatment from the deconstructive project, with some lending themselves to more work than others.

(3) is a kind of no-man's land for intellectuals, yet it is always the exit sign after performing (2).  In other words, the stability in receiving the ideologies in (1) and subjecting them to the Treatment in (2) brings us to the question of what is left after our analysis, to which the deconstructive philosopher will say, "nothing."

If deconstructive philosophies are frustrating for many, it is as a result of their odd role in the contribution of human endeavors.  These philosophies, from an outsiders perspective, are about as ridiculous occupationally as they come.  A group of intellectuals gathered around to use their analytic methodology on a variety of cultural artifacts, intellectual systems, or conceptual schema for the ends of applying their analytical methodology.  Of the contributions we stand to make towards human endeavors, deconstructive philosophers are on a par with esoteric religious programs in their insularity and inability to engage constructively with other projects.

When someone recommends performing some action, they have left their analytic seat and come back to the world where the rest of us must operate; driving our cars to work, eating our bland dinners, and watching Republicans say mean-spirited things.  Most of the philosophers I know who work within deconstructive philosophies are vociferous critics of abuses of power and are voracious consumers of music, literature, and cinema.

So what's going on here?  Why are people purusing deconstructive philosophies if they are without things that seem to matter like "truth"?

This is an open question that I think a blog could use a few words to talk about.  In what follows, I will go over some reasons for why deconstructive philosophies become an attractive approach to intellectuals.

The first is philosophically uninteresting and yet I think important to consider.  Deconstructive philosophies might very well be attractive to people who are looking for a way out of their predicament.  Someone who is introduced to a deconstructive philosophy will be able to reason their way out of existence without every having to put their hands on a real trigger.  That is to say that deconstructive philosophies have the added bonus of being always on the attack and never much on the defense.  Deconstructive philosophers can get away with this kind of positioning within an argument because of their commitment to not saying anything positive.

Secondly, from a sociological viewpoint, many are exposed to deconstructive philosophies within higher education, primarily English and Religious Studies departments but also sociology and other humanities.  As Chomsky once observed, if the mathematicians and biologists get to have their own terms and theoretical apparatus, why can't the humanities?  This in turn becomes a way students go through higher education and obtain degrees, learning the complex web of terms within a deconstructive program that they then unleash on Milton's Paradise Lost.

Thirdly, the philosophy behind them is intriguing and cannot be readily dismissed.  Take for example the attitude of a negative theologian who turns God into something of a great eraser, one that takes even someone as central as Jesus and turns them into something that gets sucked up into God's unfathomable, ineffable greatness.  This is a case where intellectuals stumbled onto a deconstructive philosophy in virtue of taking what they believed to key components of their ideology and following its application within a web of other concepts to the end of the line.

It is clear that deconstructive philosophies are waste of time because they have such a disregard for moral and social life.  They eliminate individuals and their needs to the point of disregarding what those needs are and how to get them met.  This is offensive to moral philosophy because it won't even get good things accomplished, at least not in an efficient and effective way to do so.

Moreover, deconstructive philosophy is a waste of time for theoreticians of other stripes.  Deconstructive philosophers tend to go hand in hand with social constructivists, which is in opposition to alternatives that have gained significant traction within analytic philosophy departments. Indeed, deconstructive philosophies frustrate the pursuits of many of analytic philosophies.  I'm not writing to announce whether or not those frustrations are well motivated.

Should we teach deconstrucive philosophies?  Those who are caught in the ensnaring occupation of their applications would say so, but what are they genuinely committed to?  In closing, I will say that it is extremely difficult to be consistently a deconstructivist philosopher, without occasionally jumping back into another ideology or philosophical commitment when the occasion calls for it.  To that end, deconstructivist philosophers who couple their deconstructivism with another ideology, such as Marxism, operate in a rather cynical universe in which they get to choose which contexts which ideologies best fit and can often retreat to deconstructivism whenever the going gets a little too rough in the debate.  This is not intellectually very virtuous, but that might not matter to someone who occasionally believes there is nothing ultimately that grounds the notion of intellectual virtue.


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