Just Because You Don’t Make Sense, That Doesn’t Mean that Nothing Makes Sense.

THURSDAY

Western Philosophy

Derrida’s philosophical methodology is innovative. Rather than attempting to defend his views using clear analytic arguments, he tries to “deconstruct” language. He uses words in novel ways, makes puns, breaks up words in unusual places, exploits ambiguities and traces inventive etymologies that reveal connections between words that were not obvious before. This method is known as deconstruction because it is designed to undermine presuppositions about meaning and disrupt attempts to achieve clarity through language. Some readers find his deliberate obscurity and language play frustrating. His style is closer, at times, to avant-garde poetry than to traditional philosophy. But Derrida’s work poses a challenge to widespread assumptions that is hard to ignore.

[Jesse Prinz, “Language deconstruction: Jacques Derrida,” in David Papineau, ed., Western Philosophy, (New York, NY, USA: Metro Books, 2012), 56.]

And yet, something tells me that one day people will be ignoring Derrida’s work in droves.

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Jacques Derrida,
as in “Dare I Duh”
(1930-2004)

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Blaming Beza

WEDNESDAY

For much of the 20th century—especially its second half—it has been fashionable in theological circles to assume that the school of thought commonly known as Calvinism has represented, to one extent or another, in one way or another, a departure from the thinking of its namesake, John Calvin (1509-1564), rather than a faithful transmission of it. The basic argument has assumed many forms, but they all essentially amount to attempts to disassociate the great Reformer from one or more undesired theological conclusions.

For the most part, this has been a topic for specialists: historical theologians, for the most part. But over the decades this novel assumption has trickled down through the drainpipes of academia and into the fertile imaginations of a wide variety of untrained theological ax grinders who have used it as a perennial chopping block. Take for example the gleeful comment of Luis Palau featured on the back of the 1997 Paternoster reprint of R.T. Kendall’s Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649: “It opened my eyes to who Calvin really was. I learnt Calvin was not a Calvinist!” Continue reading