Reading Derrida with Daya Krishna: Postmodern Trends in Contemporary Indian Philosophy


In his published lectures Civilizations: Nostalgia and Utopia (2012), Daya Krishna criticizes postmodern thought and especially the writings of Jacques Derrida. By outlining similarities between the two, I would claim that, indeed, it was Daya Krishna’s unexpected proximity to Derrida’s ‘deconstruction’ project that triggered his scathing critique of the latter. Moreover, Daya Krishna’s response to Derrida reveals an ongoing inner conflict in his own thinking. On the one hand, he provides us with a harsh critique of Derrida the ‘postmodern’; on the other hand, he concedes that the ‘modern’ notion of knowledge has been totally transformed, and the ‘deconstruction’ of its old formulations was the major catalyst that provoked and directed his own philosophical enterprise in the last years of his life, reformulating knowledges (in the plural). Reconstructing in this way, the dialogue which never happened might prove beneficial, not only for understanding the distinctive works of its participants, but also for carrying their writings and us one step further towards a productive, ‘relevant’ philosophical discourse in the twenty-first century.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    I would like to thank the Daya Krishna Archive, Jaipur, for their permission to quote from this correspondence between Daya Krishna and D. P. Chattopadhyaya, as well as from the following correspondence between Daya Krishna and Rajendra Prasad (Daya Krishna’s Letters [2003–2007]).


  1. Badiou A., & Žižek S. (2009). Philosophy in the present. P. Engelmann (Ed.), P. Thomas & A. Toscano (Trans.). Cambridge: Polity Press.

  2. Daya Krishna (1955). The nature of philosophy. Calcutta: Prachi Prakashan.

  3. Daya Krishna (1997). Encounters between civilizations: the question of the centre and the periphery. New Quest, 125, 261–269.

  4. Daya Krishna (1999). Thinking creatively about the creative act. Panjab University Research Bulletin (ARTS), 30(1&2), 18–26.

  5. Daya Krishna (2003). Illusion, hallucination and the problem of truth. Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 20(4), 129–146.

  6. Daya Krishna (2004a). Madness, reason and truth. Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 21(1), 89–100.

  7. Daya Krishna (2004b). Reality, imagination and truth. Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 21(4), 115–128.

  8. Daya Krishna (2005a). Definition, deception and the enterprise of knowledge. Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 22(1), 75–89.

  9. Daya Krishna (2005b). Eros, nomos and logos. Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 22(2), 165–182.

  10. Daya Krishna (2006a). Law, logic and ethics: Issues at the heart of society and polity. Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 23(1), 147–168.

  11. Daya Krishna (2006b). Chance, probability, indeterminacy and knowledge. Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 23(3), 91–110.

  12. Daya Krishna (2006c). The cosmic, biological and cultural conditionings, and the seeking for freedom. Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 23(4), 133–160.

  13. Daya Krishna (2011). Thinking versus thought: strategies in conceptual creativity. In N. Bhushan, J. L. Garfield, & D. Raveh (Eds.), Contrary thinking, selected essays of Daya Krishna (pp. 27–39). New York: Oxford University Press.

  14. Daya Krishna (2012). Civilizations: nostalgia and utopia. New Delhi: Sage Publications.

  15. Derrida J. (1981). Dissemination. B. Johnson (trans.). London: The Athlone Press.

  16. Derrida, J. (1983). The principle of reason: the university in the eyes of its pupils. C. Porter & E. P. Morris (trans.). Diacritics, 13(3), 2–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Derrida J. (2002). Acts of religion. G. Anidjar (Ed. & intro.). New York: Routledge.

  18. Derrida, J. (2004). Eyes of the university: right to philosophy 2. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Levinas, E. (1996). Enigma and phenomenon. In A. T. Peperzak, S. Critchley, & R. Bernasconi (Eds.), Emmanuel Levinas: basic philosophical writings (pp. 65–78). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Michelfelder, D. P. (1989). In D. P. Michelfelder & R. E. Palmer (Eds.), Dialogue & deconstruction: the Gadamer-Derrida encounter. Albany: State University of New York Press.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Nussbaum, M. C. (2010). Not for profit: why democracy needs the humanities. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Rorty, R. (1977). Derrida on language, being, and abnormal philosophy. Journal of Philosophy, 74(11), 673–681.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Rorty R. (2008 [1978]). Philosophy as a kind of writing: an essay on Derrida. New Literary History, 39(1), 101–119.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dor Miller.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Miller, D. Reading Derrida with Daya Krishna: Postmodern Trends in Contemporary Indian Philosophy. SOPHIA 57, 425–442 (2018).

Download citation


  • Daya Krishna
  • Jacques Derrida
  • Contemporary Indian philosophy
  • Deconstruction
  • Academia
  • Dialogue