The Untranslatable to Come: From Saying to Unsayable

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


The word ‘saying’ is used in English to translate both die Sage in the work of Martin Heidegger, and le dire in that of Emmanuel Levinas. In this chapter I sketch the manner in which these two ‘sayings’ converge and diverge around the place of language. Broadly speaking, I argue that in their treatment of this word Heidegger and Levinas remain within the tradition of metaphysics insofar as the term ‘saying’ names. It names precisely a difference within the space of which the human subject dwells. For Heidegger; the space of the ontological difference both named yet concealed in the essence of language (Saying) or, for Levinas; the space of the ethical difference named as the primary signification of the one’s responsibility for the Other (saying). The naming of such a difference establishes limits which circumscribe a space or place for the subject and reduces that difference to something translatable. For Derrida, beyond such a difference between the one and the other, or between Being and being, is another difference. A difference that remains radically impossible. It is approached through numerous terms such as différance, supplement, trace, and so on in Derrida’s work. But this very multiplicity of terms itself reveals the radical impossibility of it being named as such. Here, having outlined the accounts of Heidegger and Levinas, I conclude by approaching this radically untranslatable/unnameable/unsayable in Derrida through the word Khōra.


Heidegger Levinas Derrida Translation Language Impossible Khōra 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophical StudiesNewcastle UniversityNewcastle Upon TyneUK

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