Democracy and Critique: Recovering Freedom in Nancy and Derrida

Derrida Today 3 (1):92-112 (2010)
In this paper, I argue that we need to re-address the issue of freedom as it relates to democracy and critical practice. My argument is drawn out of Derrida's deconstructive reading of Jean-Luc Nancy's The Experience of Freedom which proposes freedom in ontological terms as an experience of indeterminate openness that must be thought prior to any freedom of the self. I show how Derrida's reading of Nancy's text is itself a re-enactment of the freedom that Derrida finds wanting in Nancy's text, but which, by that very fact, affirms the power of critique in its capacity to think freely. The urgency of the thought of freedom is not something that can be avoided, but is itself the fact of critique in its thinking of democracy as a possibility, as something that might come about, as distinct from an already accomplished idea. To think in this way is, I argue, a matter of virtue, that is, of being free, as the virtue of critique and its capacity to act decisively, thereby bringing something forth by risking what it already is, in the absolute possibility of it not being
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DOI 10.3366/drt.2010.0007
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