The series of books by Philip Pullman bear on an enduring and central idea: that of knowledge as sin.
This seems to me to be a great potential topic for somebody like Derrida.
Pullmans’ books describe the knowledge=sin assertion as a massive hoax perpetrated on us to keep us all in thrall to authority (the Church). It is possible to find or distinguish a gap in these books between the Church and the original creator (the God of the books is not the creator, but the first angel. The creator is left unaddressed, or absent).
Genesis chapter 3 describes the tree of knowledge and that the first independent action was to eat fruit from this tree, thus gaining self-knowledge. This knowledge was not bestowed by authority or tradition (much like the similar casting off in the Enlightenment). This was the Original Sin.
As has been observed before, in Pullman’s books there is a kind of reversal of Milton’s Paradise Lost, with a new war in heaven, this time successfully overthrowing the supposed God, the transcendental signified.
Did Derrida ever speak of this?
Maybe the movie version will let us know (huh, unlikely if they’re removing all the religious references).
Filed under: Knowledge