On the problematic origin of the forms: Plotinus, Derrida, and the neoplatonic subtext of deconstruction's critique of ontology
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Continental Philosophy Review 39 (1):35-58 (2006)
My aim in this paper is to draw Plotinus and Derrida together in a comparison of their respective appropriations of the famous “receptacle” passage in Plato's Timaeus (specifically, Plotinus' discussion of intelligible matter in Enneads 2.4 and Derrida's essay on Timaeus entitled “Kh ō ra”). After setting the stage with a discussion of several instructive similarities between their general philosophical projects, I contend that Plotinus and Derrida take comparable approaches both to thinking the origin of the forms and to problematizing the stability of the sensible/intelligible opposition. With these parallels in focus, I go on to explain how examining such points of contact can help us to dismantle the canonical constructs of “Plotinus the metaphysician” and “Derrida the anti-metaphysician” that have obscured important connections between Neoplatonism and deconstruction, and suppressed latent resources within the Platonic tradition itself for deconstructing the dualistic ontology of so-called “Platonic metaphysics.”.
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