Genius Is What Happens: Derrida and Kant on Genius, Rule-Following and the Event

British Journal of Aesthetics 54 (3):323-337 (2014)
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This essay examines the concept of genius in the work of Jacques Derrida and Immanuel Kant and argues that, despite Derrida’s arguments to the contrary, there is significant space for convergence between the two accounts. This convergence is sought in the complex, paradoxical relationship between the invention of the new and the contextual conditions, or ‘rules’, from which any work of genius must depart but without which no work of genius would be possible. It is my argument that Kant evades the true consequences of his own thought and escapes into a naturalist metaphysics. Only Derrida reveals the aporetic logic at the heart of genius but he fails to recognise the continuity between his own argument and that of his 18th-century predecessor. Derrida’s genius, so I contend, is Kant’s genius pushed to the limit and with all transcendental guarantees removed



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