Phi Beta Cons

Deconstruct This

I have no opinion about the merits of UC-Irvine’s lawsuit against the family of Jacques Derrida over the ownership of the late deconstructionist’s papers. The L.A. Times story on the dispute, however, notes the following:

Derrida had slowly been turning over lecture manuscripts, journals and other materials to UCI’s special collections library under an agreement he signed in 1990.

Given that Derrida’s philosophical legacy is the notion that words have no meaning, shouldn’t the bright minds at UC-Irvine have realized that “an agreement he signed” might not be worth much?

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.