Philosophy Today 62 (1):253-268 (2018)

Harris Bechtol
Sam Houston State University
Since Heidegger, at least, the theme of the event has become a focal point of current debate in continental philosophy. While scholars recognize the important contributions that Jacques Derrida has made to this debate, the significance of his considerations of the death of the other for his conception of the event has not yet been fully appreciated. This essay focuses on Derrida’s efforts to develop the notion of the event in reference to the death of the other through his engagement with Paul Celan in “Rams—Between Two Infinities, The Poem.” I argue that Derrida’s approach results in a three-fold contribution to the debate about the character of the event. Derrida turns to one of Celan’s poems in an effort to find the kind of speech that attests to the event in its singularity, and in this turn, he develops not only the structure of the event’s appearance in the death of the world when the other dies but also the ethical impetus that accompanies this event of the death of the other, namely a call for workless mourning. Through Derrida’s contribution, we learn that the concern for the event not only includes novel approaches to ontology but also attempts to weave together ontological, ethical, as well as existential concerns.
Keywords Jacques Derrida  Paul Celan  event  death  poetry  mourning  responsibility
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ISBN(s) 0031-8256
DOI 10.5840/philtoday201839211
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