Universality, singularity, and sexual difference: Reflections on political community

Philosophy and Social Criticism 31 (4):445-460 (2005)
of the tension between universality and singularity in the constitution of political community. Politics for Derrida refers to demands for universal justice, while friendship stands in for demands to recognize the incomparable uniqueness of each person. Derrida develops the incompatibility between these demands to its furthest extreme while arguing that democracy paradoxically requires meeting the demands of both claims. The result is a democracy that is never achieved but always present only in the form of a desire for democracy. This article evaluates Derrida’s position that political community is simultaneously impossible and necessary in light of similar proposals by Judith Butler and Luce Irigaray. It also asks whether the political community Derrida imagines is one in which women’s desires are represented. Key Words: Derrida • friendship • Irigaray • politics • sexual difference
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DOI 10.1177/0191453705052980
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