Monday, July 31, 2006

The Responsibility of Reading What You Criticize

Yet another brilliant post by Scott Eric Kaufman:

Well, Who Would Conservatives Have Us Footnote?

Laura Ventura, a law student from Indiana, picked up the then-latest issue of Critical Inquiry and read Anne H. Stevens and Jay Williams’ article The Footnote, in Theory. She was horrified:

"The number one cited theorist by the magazine was none other than Jacques Derrida, “the father of deconstruction.” Exactly what deconstruction means is hard to say because even Derrida himself could not give a definition. In a nutshell, deconstruction is a method for discrediting historical theorists such as Aristotle and Plato for the sole purpose of promoting Derrida’s own beliefs."

Her deep familiarity with Derrida’s oeuvre notwithstanding, I question Accuracy in Academia’s decision to publish such a laughably ignorant article. Maybe a friend should’ve told her that anti-Derridean polemics account for half of Derrida’s appearances in CI. Proof? Of course I have proof. Responsible scholars—future lawyers, even—read the works they criticize, lest they risk writing the equivalent of this:

"The number one cited theorist by the magazine was none other than some German Guy, “the father of some German school of thought.” Exactly what some German school of thought means is hard to say because even that German Guy himself could not give a definition. In a nutshell, some German school of thought is a method for discrediting historical theorists such as Aristotle and Plato for the sole purpose of promoting some German Guy’s own beliefs."


The post is worth reading in its entirety.

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