Jacques Derrida was born in El-Bair, French Algeria, to Algerian-Jewish parents on 15 July 1930. When he was 22 years old Derrida moved to Paris to start his studies at the prestigious École Normale Supérieur, taking a particular interest in the work of Edmund Husserl. In 1956-57 Derrida received a grant allowing him to study for a year at Harverd University. During his time in America he married Marguerite Aucouturie, a psychoanalyst, in 1957. From 1957-1959 during the Algerian War of Independence, he taught soldiers children in lieu of military service and following the war he briefly taught at the Sorbonne university in Paris. During this time he would take interest in the writing philosophy, and began a collaboration with the leftist Tel Quel magazine which lasted a number of years as well as writing a number of reviews and articles for the Critique magazine, also based in Paris. In 1963 his wife gave birth to their first son, Pierre and two years later Derrida began a permanent teaching position at the École Normale Supérieur.

In 1967 Derrida travelled to John Hopkins University to deliver his lecture, “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences.” This lecture was to grant him international prominence and in the same year he published 3 books, Speah and Phenomena; Writing and Difference; and Of Grammatology. The last of these books truly established his name. In it, he analyses Western Philosophy from pre-Socrates to Heidegger, arguing that the status afforded to logos serves to denigrate the writing act. Rather than challenge this prevailing norm Derrida developed a way of identifying logocentric patterns in writing, dubbed “deconstruction”. One year later in 1968 Derrida coined the term Différance, alluding to the inherent ambiguity in language. The term refers to how words and concepts are not defined by the word themselves but always need to be followed up with other words to provide context, and that context provides meaning. In such a way, he reveals the impurity of writing and by extrapolation, the impurity of identity as well. If origins are not ‘simple’ but built upon writing which in turn derives meaning from context, then identity too is impure, incapable of being defined without the context upon which it relies.

In 1986 Derrida moved to work at the University of California, and regularly spoke at various other prestigious American and European institutions. In 1992 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Cambridge University. In 2003 Derrida was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died the following year in a Parisian hospital, 8th October, 2004. One of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, Derrida’s work blurs disciplinary boundaries and he has had an especially strong influence in the fields of philosophy and literary criticism.

Derrida, Jacques and Mustapha Cherif. Islam and the West: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida. University Of
Chicago Press. November 1, 2008.

Derrida, Jacques. Learning to live finally : an interview with Jean Birnbaum. Melville House. 2007.

Derrida, Jacques. “Poetics and the Politics of Witnessing.” in: Sovereignties in question: the poetics of Paul Celan. Fordham University Press. 2005.

Derrida, Jacques. Rogues: two essays on reason. Stanford University Press. 2005.

Derrida, Jacques. Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues With Juergen Habermas and Jacques Derrida. University of Chicago Press. 2003.

Derrida, Jacques and Elisabeth Roudinesco. For What Tomorrow . . .A Dialogue. Stanford University Press. 2004.

Derrida, Jacques and Gianni Vattimo (Editors). Religion. Stanford University Press. 1998.

Derrida, Jacques. On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness. Routledge. 2001.

Derrida, Jacques. Monolingualism of the other, or, The prosthesis of origin. Stanford University Press. 1998.

Derrida, Jacques. Resistances of psychoanalysis. Stanford University Press. 1998.

Derrida, Jacques. Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. University Of Chicago Press. 1997.

Derrida, Jacques. Politics of Friendship. Verso Books. 1997.

Derrida, Jacques. “Psyche: Invention of the Other.” in: Psyche: inventions of the other Vol. 1. Stanford University Press. 2007.

Derrida, Jacques. Psyche: Inventions of the Other, Volume II. Stanford University Press. 2008.

Derrida, Jacques. “Force of Law: The Mystical Foundation of Authority.” in: Drucilla Cornell, Michel Rosenfeld, David Gray Carlson (Editors). Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice. Routledge. 1992.

Derrida, Jacques. Aporias. Stanford University Press. 1993.

Derrida, Jacques. Spectres of Marx. Routledge. 2006.

Derrida, Jacques. The Gift of Death. University of Chicago Press. 2007.

Derrida, Jacques. The Other Heading: Reflections on Today’s Europe. Indiana University Press. 1992.

Derrida, Jacques. Who’s Afraid of Philosophy?: Right to Philosophy 1. Stanford University Press. 2002.

Derrida, Jacques. Eyes of the University: Right to Philosophy 2. Stanford University Press. 2004.

Derrida, Jacques. Cinders. University of Nebraska Press. 1991.

Derrida, Jacques and Mustapha Tlili (Editors). For Nelson Mandela. Seaver Books. 1987.

Derrida, Jacques. Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question. University Of Chicago Press. 1991.

Derrida, Jacques. The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. University Of Chicago Press. 1983

Derrida, Jacques. Spurs: Nietzsche’s Styles. University Of Chicago Press. 1981.

Derrida, Jacques. Positions. Editions de Minuit. 1972.

Derrida, Jacques. Margins of Philosophy. University Of Chicago Press. 1985.

Derrida, Jacques. Dissemenation. University Of Chicago Press. 1983.

Derrida, Jacques. Writing and Difference. University of Chicago Press. 1978.

Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1967.

Derrida, Jacques. Speech and Phenomena: and Other Essays on Husserl’s Theory of Signs. Northwestern University Press. 1979.