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


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.


Minimal Community Transcendental Condition Negative Theology Messianic Element Messianic Future 
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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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