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Think Jacques Derrida was a charlatan? Look again

A scintillating new biography should make many doubters reappraise the enigmatic French philosopher

By Julian Baggini   November 2020

A true philosopher: Derrida questioned his own peculiar methods as much as the things he was questioning. Photo: ©Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

In May 1992, academics at the University of Cambridge reacted with outrage to a proposed honorary degree from their venerable institution to Jacques Derrida. A letter to the Times from 14 international philosophers followed, protesting that “M Derrida’s work does not meet accepted standards of clarity and rigour.”

Depending on your viewpoint, the incident marked the zenith or nadir of Anglo-American analytic philosophy’s resistance to…

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