ABSTRACT Jacques Derrida's turn to the political took deconstruction in a new direction this past decade. Central to this later political writing was the concept of undecidability. This essay traces the use of undecidability in Derrida's work, from its early appearance in textual theory to its redeployment in his political philosophy, before tracing out the origins of this idea in interwar thought. The argument is that this idea was already highly politicized in interwar discourse. Mathematical and logical concepts of undecidability were linked to other approaches to crisis and decision in the period. Unearthing this context shows that any evaluation of deconstruction's impact will require a thorough historicization of twentieth-century thought, something that has been hindered by Derrida's own lack of engagement with these broader intellectual currents.
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