Of Rodinson and Derrida

Adam Shatz’s article about Maxime Rodinson and Jacques Derrida draws interesting parallels and contrasts between the famed scholar of Islam and the famed philosopher and thinker, both of whom passed on recently.

Where Rodinson was a fervent rationalist in the Enlightenment mold, Derrida relentlessly questioned the universality of Western reason, and at times displayed a streak of Jewish mysticism. While Rodinson wrote in a prose of impeccable lucidity, Derrida cultivated a style that was highly metaphoric, elusive, gnomic, teeming with paradox and wordplay, at times opaque to the point of self-parody (“Therefore we will be incoherent, but without systematically resigning ourselves to incoherence”). In their approach to ideas they could hardly have been more different.

Yet it’s the affinities between the two scholars that make this exceedingly well-researched article such an interesting read.