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Community

Différance as Messianism, Khora, and Minimal Community
  • Martin C. Srajek
Chapter
  • 126 Downloads
Part of the Contributions To Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 32)

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to bring together the deconstructive notions of the text, the absolute, and the subject into that of messianism and the khora. We will then move on to an application of this messianic frame to the question of the nature of interpersonal relationships and, again, the latter’s relationship to law and justice.

Keywords

Minimal Community Transcendental Condition Negative Theology Messianic Element Messianic Future 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Note

  1. 1.
    Religion, p. 285.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Stern, p. 305f., 318f.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Religion, p. 286.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Walter Benjamin, Zur Kritik der Gewalt und andere Aufsätze, Frankfurt.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Much of Derrida’s work focuses on the state of college and university education in France and overseas. He is the co-founder of GREPH (Groupe de recherche de l’enseignement philosophique) and has published many essays and interviews on the topic of education such as De l’esprit, transi, by Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby; Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question. On Colleges and Philosophy: Jacques Derrida with Geoff Bennington. Institute of Contemporary Arts, Documents 5, 1986; “The Principle of Reason: The University in the Eyes of its Pupils,” Diacritics; “Time of a Thesis: Punctuations.” In Philosophy in FranceToday, ed. by Alan Montefiore.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Margins, p. 121.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
  8. 8.
    Ibid, p. 123.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ibid, p. 123.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Religion, p. 357.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ibid, p. 57.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid, p. 338.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Walter Benjamin, “Über den Begriff der Geschichte,” Illuminationen, pp. 251–262Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Stapleton, loc. cit., refers to this turn to the spatial, yet he takes this as an indication that the spatial in Derrida’s thought is really only symbolic for the failure of the latter’s attempt to move away from the metaphysics of presence: “For these classical concepts of spatial presence continue to constitute the horizon” (13). Stapleton fails to see that both the temporal and the spatial matrix that Derrida refers to reapeatedly in his work are recast into the neo-Kantian frame of messianism and khora which both, by virtue of their privative qualities and their ability to bring together good and bad infinity, exceed the notion of presence alltogether.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Apocalyptic Tone, p. 65.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    The oxymoronic character of this formulation is intended and reflects several things at the same time: 1. gala as the root-word for both the unveiling and exiling of truth, 2. presentation as an ideal limit of the search for truth and 3. the desire for the truth that is implicit in the use of the term “gala.”Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Apocalyptic Tone, p. 77.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ibid, pp. 83-84.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    By employing the two different translations of the word event (German and English) the preceding quote signals different semantic strata that accompany the signficance of the place. The English “e-vent” focuses on the event as that which comes out, which stands outside of the normal structures within which we live. The German “Er-eignis” focuses on the event as that which provides us with a particular kind of proprietorship; it emphasizes the self—presence that inheres in the actual event.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    How not to Speak, p. 20.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    This is an important fact that Derrida does not get tired of repeating (cp. Khora, pp 13-18; 65ff. etc; but also the whole scope of the essay “Force of Law”). The antimythic character of khora is the foundation for what Derrida, then, following Benjamin, can call justice.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Khora, p. 32.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Ibid, p. 33.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
  25. 25.
    Ibid, p. 39.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ibid, pp. 35-36.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Ibid, p. 95.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    This is the basic idea to which Bob Gibbs’ book Correlations in Rosenzweig and Levinas is devoted. Gibbs shows that Rosenzweig’s idea in the Stern was to render a sociological picture of the Jewish Community engaged in the annual cycle of ritual and liturgy. To be sure, the method with which Rosenzweig demonstrates the emergence of the community is markedly different form that of Derrida. Whereas for the former the community results from a Hegelian system that begins with a logic, moves through an analysis of linguistics and ends up with the social as the unified realm of Jewish existence, Derrida understands community as unified only in their disunity with the absolute.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    For the following analysis of the relationship between Maimonidean and Aristotelian ethics compare Steven S. Schwarzschild, “Moral Radicalism and ‘Middlingness’ in the Ethics of Maimonides,” The Pursuit of the Ideal: Jewish Writings of Steven Schwarzschild, ed. by Menachem Kellner pp. 137–161.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    We already discussed this question in chapter 4, part I, where we confronted Levinas’ thinking with that of Alfred Schütz who, like Levinas, finds the core of the ethical relationship captured in the face-to-face relationship, and who, also like Levinas, finds the lack of a conceptualization of ethics in Husserl’s phenomenology intolerable. Yet, for Schütz the face to face relationship was the reciprocal expression of the mutually manifested, non-reciprocal awareness of the other’s stream of consciousness. In any reading of Derrida’s work, however, the nonreciprocal is an almost self-evident premise of his descriptions of the exilic, apocalyptic, “negative,” or progressive condition of human knowledge. The concept of non-reciprocality as the form of the ethical evolves from Derrida’s thought with necessity and has been constitutive of his thinking from the earliest beginnings.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    This is the locus of Derrida’s essay on the gift (“En ce moment dans cette ouvrage me voici,”) where he asserts the impossibility of a positive response to any gift since that would reaffirm a symmetrical relationship and thus compromise the position of the other to the point where he/she could not be identified as other anymore.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Jacques Derrida, “The Politics of Friendship,” The Journal of Philosophy, July-Dec, no. 85, 1988, p. 636; henceforth referred to as “Friendship.”Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Friendship, p. 632.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Friendship, p. 637. The future anterior is a peculiar grammatical tense. It is rarely used in commonday colloquial speech. In the sentence “ I will have finished the task by the time you come home,” it is used to express the retrospective appreciation of the fulfillment of the task from a viewpoint that, at the time the sentence is said, still lies in the future. Colloquially, we would rather choose the passive future structure. “ I will be finished with the task by the time you come around.” Obviously, this reintroduces the copula “to be” and thus re-establishes a connection with being which at this point is undesirable, since it would destroy the asymmetrical effect of the future anterior. It, moreover, emphasizes the passive over the active that is maintained in the future anterior and is consequently less appropriate to designate the act of friendship the way Derrida envisions it here.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Friendship, p. 632-33.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ibid, p. 633-34.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Ibid, p. 633.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    The prepositional qualification of responsibility (responsible to, for, and before) is a characteristic that Derrida analyzes along the lines of the non-reciprocal nature of any relationship. “One answers [is responsible to] first to the other” then “one answers for oneself,” and one answers before the other (638-39). Of these three, it is the responsibility to the other that is prioritized in Derrida’s reading, since it is the quality of singularity that is announced in it that passes through the law, i.e. through universality (640-41).Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Jacques Derrida, “Force of Law: The ‘Mystical Foundation of Authority’,” Cardozo Law Review: Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice, (henceforth referred to as “Justice, p. French/English”).Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Justice, pp. 941-43.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Ibid, p. 943.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Ibid, p. 943.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Walter Benjamin, Zur Kritik der Gewalt und andere Aufsätze.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Justice,p. 1003.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Ibid, p. 1003.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Ibid, p. 943.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Ibid, p. 945.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Ibid, p. 929.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Ibid, p. 945.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Ibid, p. 947.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Ibid, p. 949.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Ibid, p. 951.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Ibid, p. 953.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Ibid, p. 955.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Ibid, p. 955.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Ibid, p. 957.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Ibid, p. 957.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Ibid, p. 961.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Ibid, p. 1015.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin C. Srajek
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignIllinoisUSA

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