This introductory chapter sets out the three related sets of questions that the book seeks to answer: (1) What is the relation between phenomenology and deconstruction? (2) How can contemporary French thought develop responses to the problems of alterity and coherence? (3) In the light of these concerns, what resources are there in the thought of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Paul Ricœur and Jean-Luc Nancy for thinking ontology ‘otherwise’? The starting hypothesis of the book is that, even after deconstruction, the phenomenological idea that meaning inheres (somehow) in the world is worth another look. The introduction closely examines each word in the short phrase ‘the relation of phenomenology and deconstruction’, notably circumscribing what can be meant by ‘phenomenology’ and ‘deconstruction’ and beginning to critique reductive characterisations of their relation as successive or mutually exclusive.
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