An Interesting To Do List

Comes from Haddad’s review of Edward Baring’s The Young Derrida and French Philosophy. It really does at some of the weird intrigue of 1960s academia:


ENS also figures prominently in Chapter 8, this time in an analysis of Of Grammatology. Reading this work as a response to Althusser’s structuralism, Baring spends some time describing the behavior and work of the Althusserians at the Ecole. A particular highlight is the eye-opening discussion of notes from the “Groupe Spinoza” — a secret group formed by Althusser in 1966 comprising “around fifteen present and past students, including Alain Badiou, Michel Tort, Etienne Balibar, and Pierre Machery” (273) — revealing a world in which theory and politics are completely enmeshed, with intrigue at every turn. Baring argues that the group saw Derrida as an unreliable ally, and he quotes their plans to prevent his anti-humanism from passing to its opposite:

“1. Through criticism, force Derrida to maximize his critique of phenomenology and his pseudo-rupture.

2. Short circuit him at the level of the status and nature of philosophical discourse …

3. Make metaphysics as such an object of analysis.

4. Strike at the level of literary theory … ” (276).