Podcast Recommendation: Christopher Watkin on Jacques Derrida
Usually Austin does the podcast reviews around here. Also, philosophy is far from my strong suit. So I am not recommending the following to usurp Austin's place or try to show you how smart I am. I just want to recommend a podcast outside my typical reading or listening disciplines that I recently enjoyed.
Reformed Forum conducted a three-part interview with Christopher Watkin on the influential French philosopher Jacques Derrida, who is one of the fathers of postmodernistic thought and is perhaps most known for formulating what became known as deconstruction. Dr. Watkin, a Reformed believer, was fascinating to listen to because of the depth of knowledge he has of Derrida and the way he was able to explain Derrida's thought to those unfamiliar with his writings (all done with politeness and a beautiful accent, I might add!). But what really drew me was how Watkin critiqued Derrida in a gracious way that showed his brilliance yet also revealed his shortcomings under the light of Scripture. He was able to describe Derrida's points of contact with truth and reality yet describe how they veered away from the revelation of the Triune God. For me, it not only taught me lessons in philosophy but how to engage unbelief in a winsome way.
Below are the links with the briefest of descriptions.
This first podcast introduces Derrida and then (ironically perhaps) "deconstructs" some common misconceptions of him. Watkin then explains a popular phrase of Derrida: il n’y a pas de hors-texte (“there is nothing outside the text”).
The second interview shows why classifying Derrida as a relativist is not quite accurate by helping us understand another Derridean phrase: tout autre est tout autre (“every other is wholly other”). Watkin then uses this phrase to explain in a fascinating way how Derrida understood the story of Abraham offering Isaac in Genesis 22, concluding by contrasting that with the Christian worldview of absolute personality theism.
In the final episode Watkin shows how Derrida rejected the concept of a god of ontotheology (a theology that is merely conceptual in nature and separate from any experience). He then goes on to show Derrida's misplaced hope in an idealized world democracy he had, based on his belief in a "messianicity without a messiah," and again how knowledge of the Triune God "diagonalizes" through Derrida's concepts.