The discipline of the question': Rereading Derrida's 'Violence and Metaphysics

Derrida Today 3 (1):137-150 (2010)
This article recalls Derrida's reading of Levinasian ethics as a discourse of the other, particularly in ‘Violence and Metaphysics’, in order to re-elaborate Derrida's own account of the other's heterogeneity, notably in light of critiques of deconstruction's thinking of difference, alterity, and the unconditional. At stake here is the precise meaning of what may be termed wholly other; or, better still, the specific nature of the arguments about the question of the other from among Derrida's earlier texts, which must be recalled amidst any appeal to absolute alterity, especially of the kind frequently found in Derrida commentary today. The article suggests that, in the process of Derrida reading Levinas, the radical alterity of the other is sustained in ‘Violence and Metaphysics’ principally in terms of the legitimacy (or ‘discipline’) of a question that arises only on the hither side of a phenomenology of the other – a phenomenology that emerges, nonetheless, as its unacknowledged ground. Thus, in contrast to Levinasian thought (and yet also in deeper affinity with what we might term, for Derrida, its still obscured originality), deconstruction's discourse of the other opens onto the wholly other not simply as the ‘beyond’ or the ‘outside’ of phenomenology's limits, but only at the point where the phenomenological gives way in something like a double sense
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DOI 10.3366/drt.2010.0009
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Jacques Derrida (2008). The Gift of Death. University of Chicago Press.

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