Interesting Review of Hägglund’s Radical Atheism


I have expressed some reservations about Hägglund’s book in the past, but I do think it is a rather refreshing read, even if I disagree for the most part with its primary argument – here’s take on the book by Brian Rajski:

“[T]he openness to the other cannot be an ethical principle since it is not a matter of choice. Openness to the other answers to the openness to the unpredictable coming of time and is thus the condition for whatever there is. . . . Furthermore, nothing can guarantee that it is better to be more open than to be less open to the other (or vice versa). . . . The decision concerning how one should relate to the other can therefore not be dictated by an ethical injunction, but must be reinvented from time to time. Far from providing an ethical ground, the deconstructive thinking of alterity thus politicizes even the most elementary relation to the other.” In this explosive little book on Derrida, Martin Hagglund rejects the appropriation over the last twenty years of deconstruction as an ethical, political, or religious project. He denies that there is an “ethical turn” in Derrida’s thought (usually located around the publication of Specters of Marx), arguing Derrida’s work is informed by a single logic from start to end. 

The Art of the System.


Time: Olden Days. 

Location: Athens. 

Characters: Phaedrus, Socrates, Kant, Derrida.

Socrates
… Shall we read the beginning of it again?* 

Phaedrus
If you like; but what you seek is not in it.

Socrates
Read, that I may hear Lysias himself.

Phaedrus
You know what my condition is, and you have heard how I think it is to our advantage to arrange these matters. And I claim that I ought not to be refused what I ask because I am not your lover. For lovers repent of the kindnesses they have done when their passion ceases.

Socrates
He certainly does not at all seem to do what we demand, for he does not even begin at the beginning, but undertakes to swim on his back up the current of his discourse from its end, and begins with what the lover would say at the end to his beloved. Am I not right, Phaedrus my dear?

Derrida [interrupting]
If I may interject, dear Socrates, but beginning at the beginning is sort of overrated, don’t you think? Yet by phrasing the question in this particular way, or implying to phrase it as “does one not suppose to begin at the beginning?” are you not attempting to trick poor Phaedrus here into simply stating what you have always already inscribed in the very question? Continue reading

Новогодний Подарок: Андрей Синявский, Иван-Дурак


Нашел в сети файл замечательной книги Синявского – Иван-дурак: Очерк русской народной веры – файл по всей видимости сделан на основе оригинала, но без прямого сканирования страниц – читайте, с Новым годом всех русскоязычных читателей.

For the English-speaking readers, this Derrida/Cherif conversation – Islam and the West – can found here.

Hägglund’s Radical Atheism: To Read Or Not To Read?


UPDATE II (1/12): For those who are possibly reading this trying to decide whether to read Hägglund’s book on Derrida (as is stated in the somewhat disingenuously existential title of this post) should regard this blog post and its subsequent comments as a certain singular perspective on the issue – this comment is, of course, always already arrogant and pretentious since it assumes that someone will be making a decision regarding a book based on this post. I have since finished reading the book, therefore it was ultimately “to be”; I found it seriously lacking at certain points and somewhat insightful at others. It is not purely derridalogical in that it does propose an interesting (even if almost entirely familiar) reading, it does not engage Derrida’s ideas very much, simply creatively restates them while mainly ignoring the large body of secondary literature on the issues discussed in the book. If you are interested in the issue of “time” and “temporality” in Derrida, I think that Joanna Hodge’s excellent study Derrida on Time would be a much better choice…

UPDATE I (12/27): Just started chapter 2 and already I am discovering things: the opening paragraph and a half from this chapter on Derrida and Husserl is a word for word the same as the opening two paragraphs of Hägglund’s essay on Nabokov mentioned below that I’ve read this afternoon. No, it’s not a self-citation, it’s the same text only in New Literary History Hägglund goes on to discuss Nabokov and in Radical Atheism the transition is to Derrida – can you do that? 

Just got Martin Hägglund’s book on Derrida – Radical Atheism:  Derrida and the Time of Life – several days ago and having finished the introduction and the first chapter on Derrida and Kant, I am having doubts about whether I should continue with the book. There are several reason I read as much as I did so far: Continue reading

New Book: Derrida, la tradition de la philosophie (Galilée, 2008)


Traditions de Derrida

par Jean-Philippe Milet

Derrida a lu, avec passion et admiration, la tradition philosophique. Mais sa lecture est transformation et réinvention — déconstruction. C’est ce que montrent, dans leur diversité, les contributions rassemblées dans ce volume dirigé par M. Crépon et F. Worms.

Recensé : Derrida, la tradition de la philosophie, sous la direction de Marc Crépon et de Frédéric Worms, Galilée, 2008, 217 p., 30 €.

L’apposition du nom de « Derrida » à « la tradition de la philosophie » peut signifier qu’à travers un style de lecture auquel renvoie le nom de « déconstruction », Jacques Derrida aura annoncé une autre manière de penser, une autre écriture ; mais aussi, que cette annonce est lisible à travers les philosophes qu’il aura lus ou « déconstruits » en tant que figures de la « métaphysique de la présence ». Dans leur diversité, les contributions rassemblées dans ce volume (et issues d’un colloque organisé à l’ENS Paris en octobre 2005) évitent l’alternative trop simple entre rupture et continuité, pour mettre l’accent sur la manière dont Derrida s’est installé dans la structure des oppositions hiérarchisées de la métaphysique (sensible/intelligible, matériel/spirituel, vivant/non vivant, parole/écriture, etc..) en vue de les subvertir en laissant apparaître le travail du sens, une production implicite ou inconsciente d’effets de sens qui déstabilise de l’intérieur tous les systèmes conceptuels. Suivant le fil directeur de ce rapport, sont abordés les principaux thèmes de la pensée derridienne : la trace, la différance, le messianisme, la spectralité, la responsabilité, le désert. Deux repères permettent d’éclairer le rapport de Derrida à la tradition : la nécessité où il se trouve de présupposer l’identité et l’unité archéo-téléologique de la tradition philosophique pour la déployer en un récit (D. Kambouchner) ; la possibilité d’une invention d’idiomes, reposant sur le lien entre déconstruction et traduction (M. Crépon). Si Derrida identifie la tradition, il ne la laisse pas intacte, il la transforme, la réinvente, et ce, à chaque lecture. Peut-être y a-t-il plus d’une tradition philosophique ? Peut-être, en chaque acte de réinvention, Derrida est-il, chaque fois, « la » tradition » ? C’est une des pistes de réflexion suggérée par un colloque dont les analyses, dans leur richesse et leur minutie, ne se laissent pas résumer. On se contentera d’esquisser une topographie des différentes stratégies de lecture.

Read the rest of the review here.

For the information about the conference, go here.

Derrida and the Professors.


In his famous pronouncement against the future professors who will inevitably take interest in his journals, Kierkegaard writes:

MY POSSIBLE FAME

That I shall acquire a certain renown, surely not even my bitterest enemy will deny. But I begin now to wonder whether I shan’t become famous in a genre quite different from the one I had envisaged, whether I shan’t become famous as a naturalist, in that I have made discoveries or at least delivered a very considerable contribution to the natural history of parasites. The parasites I have in mind are priests and professors, these greedy and virulently self-reproductive parasites which even have the shamelessness (which is more than other parasites have) to want to be of service to those they live off. (XI 2 A 277)

Not very nice, yet ultimately a prophetic observation that is cited by professors as a proof of the greatness of their subject, cited sometimes with a kind of self-depreciation that is considered to be a good enough penance for the thankless job of studying such an ungrateful thinker – here we are editing, collecting, and publishing his multiple journals, essays and books, and yet he dares to accuse us of being parasites and useless idlers! However abusive Kierkegaard is, especially at the end of his life, the image of a parasite is hard to dismiss in light of all the secondary literature on Kierkegaard…  Take the old discussion of the status of the secondary literature – is it really fair to the thinker to write a commentary after commentary when he himself explicitly mocks the idea and takes it to be a gross misrepresentation of his work? On one hand, one could claim that the very title of an “expert” on Kierkegaard should be so ironic and disconcerting that various reports of suicides among Kierkegaard professors should be a norm in the news. On the other hand, so what if Kierkegaard ridiculed his future experts – we don’t have to listen to his judgments, because he clearly wanted to be studied, wanted to be the object of future admiration and here is the proof from his writings etc etc. Think about someone closer to our time, someone like Derrida – can we think of his “disciples” as betraying the thought of the Master by producing a stream of secondary literature I have previously described as “derridalogy”? Continue reading

“Philosophy Begins with Kant and Ends with Hegel” – Interview with Zizek (in Russian)


«Философия начинается с Канта и заканчивается Гегелем»
Интервью со Славоем Жижеком
для журнала «Логос»
Москва, 6 марта 2007

Людмила Воропай:

Со времен Диогена Лаэртского историко-философский дискурс по сути мало изменился. За фасадом изощренных терминологических конструкций по-прежнему скрывается простое и понятное человеческое любопытство и желание знать кто, кого, когда и за что любил (или не любил), и чем все это закончилось. Всякий философ, вступая в диалог с традицией, вычерчивает свою собственную историю философии, в которой он отдает должное и предъявляет претензии тем фигурам, без которых его сегодняшняя мысль попросту не могла бы состояться. Особенной привилегией здесь, как правило, пользуются фигуры недавнего прошлого, поэтому наш разговор мне хотелось бы начать с вопроса о вашем отношении к двум «магистральным» представителям недавней французской мысли — к Делезу и Деррида. Продолжение здесь (PDF).

Модели Гостеприимства (Models of Hospitality)


Three interesting essays on hospitality in a 2004 issue of Новое Литературное Обозрение (New Literary Review)

The summaries in English (full-text in Russian below):

MODELS OF HOSPITALITY:

These three articles about Traditional and modern models of hospitality are issued from a Franco-Russian conference which took place in Moscow in October 2002.

Alain Montandon (Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand, France), in his article Hospitality — an ethnographic delusion? analyses the myth of “good old” hospitality, and shows the unstable and contradictory character of this current mythology, which he illustrates through the example of a novel by contemporary Albanian writer, Ismail Kadari.

Marie Gaille-Nikodimov (Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand, France), in her essay, Is a humanistic philosophy of hospitality possible? discusses the philosophical and legal problem of the theoretical framework of a purely “humanistic philosophy of hospitality”, in other words whether being hospitably received in a foreign country may be regarded as a human right, independently of any considerations of the political and cultural identity of the person welcomed (following the works of Jacques Derrida and Etienne Balibar).

Sergey Zenkin (Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow) in his theoretical essay Towards anthropological and literary definitions of hospitality proposes to distinguish between two concepts of hospitality, the “anthropological” and the “literary” one; the former, Zenkin writes, is based on a reciprocal exchange, and the latter on unilateral gifts.

АЛЕН МОНТАНДОН. Гостеприимство: этнографическая мечта? (пер. с фр. Е. Гальцовой)

МАРИ ГАЙ – НИКОДИМОВ. Возможна ли гуманистическая философия гостеприимства? (пер. с фр. Е. Гальцовой)

С. ЗЕНКИН. Гостеприимство: к антропологическому и литературному определению

The State of Literary Theory (The Chronicle Review Links)


Stopped by the department to pick up my mail and saw a large picture of Derrida looking at me from The Chronicle of Higher Education bin, and looking quite disapprovingly too – “What did I do?” I thought immediately and picked up an oldish issue of The Chronicle Review (June 13)- this is an old conversation that I think already exhausted itself, but the three essays that constitute the section “The State of Literary Theory” are available online, so I thought I’d point them out (gathered all nicely together):

Jeffrey J. Williams, Why Today’s Publishing World Is Reprising the Past.

Francois Cusset, French Theory’s American Adventures.

Richard Wolin, America’s Tolerance for French Radicalism.

Wolin’s essay has a nice tone to it:

What accounts for French theory’s warmer reception in America? Owing to the dearth of our own innate intellectual traditions, Americans are, as is well known, inveterate borrowers of ideas from abroad. As Tocqueville observed: “America is one of the countries in the world where philosophy is least studied. … [The Americans[‘]] social condition deters them from speculative studies.” Poststructuralism’s arrival on American shores occurred at a propitious juncture: the moment when our own indigenous Enlightenment value system had been discredited as a result of its implication in the Vietnam War.

French politics has oscillated between moments of frenzied revolutionary upheaval and periods of iron-fisted autocracy. Conversely, since America’s inception as a nation some 230 years ago, a very different political culture has held sway: the culture of political liberalism. Whether one seeks to explain that by America’s lack of a feudal past (as did Werner Sombart in his classic study, Why Is There No Socialism in the United States?) or by the egalitarian traditions of New England local democracy, the results are the same: In comparison with Europe, our political extremes have rarely been too extreme; they have never wandered very far from what the historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. once called the “vital center.”