Différance, Deconstruction, and the Project of Political Epistemology
As we have seen, subject-object dialectical interdependence and the linguistic nature of cognitive/material reality are of canonical importance to political epistemology, a research project with a strategic function. The project of political epistemology learns from critical theory that the dialectical contingency of the present cognitive/material reality allows, and indeed promotes, political actions to change the present. The political measure, however, should not be understood as a merely coercive and physical act. Since the in-itself-for-us reality is at once cognitive and material, political attempts to change it should address both aspects of reality. In order to understand the politics of cognitive change in reality, I begin the present chapter with an inquiry into the nature of contingency. The notion of contingency of language, consciousness, and reality opens up a site for studying the relationships between political acts, ethics, and epistemic normativity. Within this site, I believe, Jacques Derrida’s ideas of différance and deconstruction can contribute valuable insights to the project of political epistemology. They can help us envision a pattern of the relation of mutual implication between epistemic normativity as new coherence, radical ethical normativity as openness, and political activity in the name of doing justice to the other.
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