History of the Human Sciences 27 (4):77-97 (2014)

The recent publication of the translation of Jacques Derrida’s Athens, Still Remains, a small volume of photographs and commentary, affords an opportunity to probe Derrida’s reflections on death and therefore on life as well. Looking at photographs and objects of everyday life, Derrida emphasizes the deferred yet certain nature of death and the way in which this deferral opens the opportunity to devote ourselves to life. His grounding of his philosophical and deconstructionist argument in contemplation of material fragments invites a comparison with the writing of sociologist Georg Simmel on ruins, time and death. Both writers attempt to discover practices of survival, the techne of affirming life in the face of death. For both of them these practices are sociological as well as philosophical, individual as well as collective, and aesthetic as well as intellectual. While their reflections thematically converge, their strategies for the affirmation of life are not identical, and we contrast Derrida’s approach, rooted in a concept of being in the world and a connection to others, to Simmel’s analysis which is focused on the role of culture and the force of the human spirit. Reconstructing a conversation between Derrida and Simmel and examining their intellectual rapprochement deepen our thinking about temporality and death as we confront the question ‘How are we to live?’
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DOI 10.1177/0952695114529116
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Derrida From Now On.Michael Naas - 2008 - Fordham University Press.
The Aesthetics of Modern Life: Simmel's Interpretation.David Frisby - 1991 - Theory, Culture and Society 8 (3):73-93.
Introduction — Allosociality.Thomas M. Kemple - 2007 - Theory, Culture and Society 24 (7-8):1-19.

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