Deconstruction and Democracy (Bloomsbury Studies in Continental Philosophy)
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‘No democracy without deconstruction': Deconstruction and Democracy evaluates and substantiates Derrida's provocative claim, assessing the importance of this influential and controversial contemporary philosopher's work for political thought. Derrida addressed political questions more and more explicitly in his writing, yet there is still confusion over the politics of deconstruction. Alex Thomson argues for a fresh understanding of Derrida's work, which acknowledges both the political dimension of deconstruction and its potential contribution to our thinking about politics. The book provides cogent analysis and exegesis of Derrida's political writings; explores the implications for political theory and practice of Derrida's work; and brings Derrida's work into dialogue with other major strands of contemporary political thought. Deconstruction and Democracy is the clearest and most detailed engagement available with the politics of deconstruction, and is a major contribution to scholarship on the later works of Jacques Derrida, most notably his Politics of Friendship.
from the primordial givenness of the facts they deal with (and in the testing of their ideas return always to these facts)’.4 Such sciences – and naturalism, historicism and psychologism in particular, as Husserl argues in ‘Philosophy as a Rigorous Science’5 – are unable to account logically for their own premises. In the essay to which Derrida devoted his ﬁrst major published work, ‘The Origin of Geometry’, Husserl asserts that: all [merely] factual history remains incomprehensible because,
of this unconditional hospitality is hard to deﬁne. It is neither a truth nor an essence of hospitality, of which all actual forms of hospitality would be ﬂawed copies, pale imitations. It is not an Idea of hospitality towards which we could work, or towards which the world is progressing by some secret teleology. Yet in the same way that Derrida claims that law bears witness to justice, and democracy bears witness to a ‘democracy-to-come’, but which can never appear as such, limited hospitality
already at work in both theoretical and experiential relations to the world. So ‘metaphysics’ is not ‘a philosophy of transcendence that situates elsewhere the true life to which man, escaping from here, would gain access in the privileged moments of liturgical mystical elevation, or in dying’ [TI 52 / 44]. Yet nor is it ‘a philosophy of immanence’ – by which Levinas appears to mean Hegelianism – ‘in which we would truly come into possession of being when every “other” (cause for war),
which he had stressed ‘the traditional and androcentric attribution of certain characteristics to woman (private interiority, apolitical domesticity, intimacy of a sociality that Levinas refers to as a “society without language”, etc.)’ [A DI 43 / 82], Derrida suggests a different approach this time. For it would be possible to argue that what Levinas does is not to obliterate sexual difference in the name of a neutrality before ontology or empirical sexual difference, but to mark the very
Depoliticization and Repoliticization 171 This impulse lies behind not only Derrida’s reading of Schmitt, but his discussion of Benjamin’s essay ‘Critique of Violence’ in the second part of ‘Force of Law’. One subtext to the essay is the literal and ﬁgural correspondence between Benjamin and Schmitt, with Heidegger forming a third party to the debate [FOL 48 / 114; 66 n.6 / 72].5 Derrida comments on Benjamin’s diagnosis of the ‘ “degeneracy” of a parliamentarism powerless to control the police