This Sense of Exclusion

From an article in The New Humanist on the Derrida-Searle debates, back in the heady days when Postmodernism seemed unstoppable:

Jacques Derrida, the third child of five, was born in Algeria, then still a French colony, to Sephardic Jewish parents. On what was to have been be his first day of high school, in 1942, the Vichy government of France imposed new Jewish quotas on school attendance in Algeria, and Derrida was expelled. This sense of exclusion, and of the assumptive authority of the law, was, he later said, to be a founding influence on his personality and thought.

That last sentence is critical. As Kevin MacDonald has shown, in his The Culture of Critique, Jewish intellectuals with a strong sense of Jewish identity will often hold either cognitively dissonant beliefs (e.g., “Immigration is good… except for Israel”; “Christian nationalism is bad… but Jewish nationalism is good”) or, in the case of Derrida, with his tropes of ‘absense’ vs. ‘presence’ and the like, will infuse their senses of Otherness (and concomitant paranoia) into the very substance of their intellectual work.

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