I spent most of today writing up my Nussbaum/Sloterdijk/Ulmer/SF Zero article, turning handwritten rough draft into (sloppily) typed rough draft. A fun process. Essentially, I critique Nussbaum's connection between critical thinking and empathy, and argue instead for a post-pedagogical, non-critical, self-explorative thinking alongside a call for local action. More on this to come.
A colleague stepped in and returned a book he borrowed last year--Mark C. Taylor's Moment of Complexity. Flipping through the pages, I came to a passage that rifted nicely with my writing; Taylor:
Through his deconstructive analyses, Derrida attempts to disrupt digital technologies and the systems they produce by turning the digital divide into a rupture that can never be overcome. However, his critique is, in the final analysis, ineffective: deconstruction changes nothing. While exposing systems and structures as incomplete and perhaps repressive, deconstruction inevitably leaves them in place. This is not merely because deconstruction involves theoretical analyses instead of practical action but also because of the specific conclusions reached by the theoretical critique. Instead of showing how totalizing structures can actually be changed, deconstruction demonstrates that the tendency to totalize can never be overcome, and, thus, that repressive structures are inescapable. For Derrida and his followers, all we can do is to join in the Sisyphean struggle to undo what cannot be done. (65)
Essentially, I accuse Nussbaum of something similar to what Taylor accuses Derrida--of a kind of navel-gazing philosophy that does not adequately address the complications of real world change. I do think Taylor is intentionally under-reading (is that a thing?) Derrida here in order to set up his later articulation of complexity (one that draws quite heavily on this "useless" deconstruction). Deconstruction, I think, can suggest to us the necessity of approaching change on a local and concrete level--it is not necessarily inevitable that we leave structures in place.