The acts of faith: On witnessing in Derrida and Arendt

Philosophy and Social Criticism 37 (6):629-645 (2011)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In a brief comment in ‘History of the Lie’, his one sustained engagement with Arendt, Derrida criticizes the ‘absence’ of any reference to the ‘problematic of testimony, witnessing, or bearing witness’ in her work, and asserts that she was ‘not interested’ in what ‘distinguishes’ testimony from ‘proof’. This passage links Derrida’s reading of Arendt to a theme that concerns him throughout his later work, specifically the ‘affirmation’ or ‘act of faith’ that ostensibly conditions all human relations, and the possibility of sociality in general. In this article, I claim not only that Arendt did address the problem of testimony or witnessing, and the difference between bearing witness and establishing proof, but also that her consideration of these issues represents an alternative to many of the arguments Derrida develops in his later work, especially his approach to responsibility and judgment, secrecy and memory, and the relation between the self and others



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 79,702

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Witnessing deconstruction in education: Why quasi-transcendentalism matters.Gert Biesta - 2009 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 43 (3):391-404.
For Derrida.Joseph Hillis Miller - 2009 - New York: Fordham University Press.
Pseudology : Derrida on Arendt and lying in politics.Martin Jay - 2009 - In Pheng Cheah & Suzanne Guerlac (eds.), Derrida and the Time of the Political. Duke University Press.
Historical Undecidability: The Kantian Background to Derrida’s Politics.Alison Ross - 2004 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 12 (4):375 – 393.
Acts of religion.Jacques Derrida - 2002 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Gil Anidjar.
Derrida.Simon Critchley - 2006 - Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 10 (2):315-326.


Added to PP

61 (#205,445)

6 months
1 (#479,744)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?