The quote, from Jaques Chirac, is almost an understatement. Derrida’s ideas on phenomenology and contributions to the “post-modernist” and post-structuralist movements (with the likes of Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Jaques Lacan and Jean Hippolyte) have caused thousands of students headaches for the last four decades, as he himself acknowledged, but at the same time have helped to revolutionise the nature of criticism and analytical thought. Having lost Pierre Bourdieu a couple of years ago, France’s place as philosophical capital of the world could well be under threat. Who of the late 1960s/1970s French philosophical revolution is left?
Read more on Derrida here (including links to various articles of his online), pick up a summary of his most famous ideas on deconstruction with the book of interviews Deconstruction in a Nutshell: Conversation with Jacques Derrida, or read obituaries at The New York Times (reg req), Le Monde (in French), and The BBC (nice and short…)