Between the Singular and the Proper: On Deconstructive Personhood

  • Simon SkemptonEmail author
Part of the Contributions To Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 86)


The notion of personhood initially appears to be something that is put into question by Derridean deconstruction. This is due to this notion implying the self-presence of an autonomous consciousness and the narcissism of an exclusionary qualitative identity. Yet Derrida’s later works emphasize the connection between deconstructive difference and the concept of singularity, a singularity which Derrida associates with the “who” of personhood as opposed to the generic “what”. This article advocates a rethinking of personhood as itself a deconstructive dislocation of the realm of presence and identity. Proto-deconstructive conceptions of personhood that are enlisted to support this rethinking include Hegel’s notion of the subject as the ‘disparity of substance with itself’, Heidegger’s notion of the transcendent finitude of being ‘held out into the nothing’ as a precondition of personhood, and Levinas’s avowedly personalist notion of the singular other that transcends and ‘undoes’ its phenomenal presentation.


Derrida Hegel Heidegger Levinas Personhood Singularity 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Research University – Higher School of EconomicsMoscowRussia

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