Descartes reportedly said ‘I think, therefore I am.’ In the light of uncertainty occupying the core of all forms of existence (including my belief in a universal creator of the cosmos), I am inclined to re-state Descartes thus: I think, therefore I am – I theenk! This is not to denigrate anyone, especially any ‘ethnic’ (like me), to whom English is a second or third language. But we are not lacking a sense of humour!
Now, when I write ‘Failure is a stepping-stone to success,’ is it not clear that, at certain times, perhaps in certain places, some of us will pick ourselves up from the ground, or struggle successfully out of a sticky marsh, after being knocked down, or having fallen off our perch, to struggle up a slippery slope (possibly sliding back a little from time to time), driven to survive, and willing ourselves to achieve some form of success? Contrary to what Derrida and his disciples might say, is there not truth in that statement? Can there not be truth in similar statements when based on reality, on experience?
When I, as author, am de-throned by the deconstructionist process, and deconstructionist readers – denying (as required) the obvious truth in that statement – seek to re-interpret that statement in imaginative ways, would they not be changing the subject and/or the intent of my statement? Taking these away by looking for alternative possible meanings may, of course, be an interesting game for semanticists; but what would be the reason for such distortion? Would the intended deconstruction also have respect for the grammatical exactitude of my statement? Or, would grammar, like the meaning of words, be whatever the reader wanted it to be? Is a reader entitled to deny, or merely alter, a reality based on observed past experiences?
Instead of looking for alternative possible meanings of the words written, should not a scholar be looking at the background – of the writer, his/her values, interests, and motivations; of the times and places about which the writing refers; and the accepted or prevalent meaning of words at the time the words were written? I remember a lecturer in philosophy asking for all the possible meaning of the word ‘sensible’ instead of accepting the meaning of that word in 18th century England when philosopher Locke wrote it.
I am curious. In what manner would the deconstructionist process enhance learning?