Sunday, January 08, 2006

Dawkins, deconstructionism and evil

"That programme is starting tomorrow," I said to Liz.

"What programme's that, then?" she replied.

"The one where Dawkins talks about religion being the root of all evil."

"But if religion is the root of all evil, then how does he know what is evil?"

Good question.

It's reminiscent of the approach taken by deconstructionists. They argue that the meaning of a text can't be established on the basis of the intentions of the author, but only on the basis of the interpretive community. So a book means, not as Alice the speaker said about words, "what I want it to mean", but what the reader wants it to mean.

However, these deconstructionists have written books and papers themselves. I choose to interpret Derrida's "Writing and Difference" as an ironic book, actually making the point that meaning has to be found in the intention of the author, not in the interpretation placed on it by the reader. In fact, given that Derrida would presumably have been really cross that I interpreted his text in this way, I believe I can rest my case.

Well, that about wraps it up for postmodernism, then.