This strange institution called 'philosophy': Derrida and the primacy of metaphilosophy

Philosophy and Social Criticism 38 (3):257-288 (2012)
In 1981, after 20 years of teaching and writing philosophy, Derrida claimed that ‘less than ever’ did he ‘know what philosophy is’. Indeed, his ‘knowledge of what ... constitutes the essence of philosophy’ remained ‘at zero degree’. 1 These were not flippant remarks. Rather, Derrida’s avowed uncertainty is part of a more general metaphilosophical view; namely, that ‘Philosophy has a way of being at home with itself that consists in not being at home with itself’. 2 In this article I will critically reconstruct and develop this view, paying particular attention to the ‘institutional’ dimension of contemporary philosophy
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