Learning to live up to death -- finally: Ricoeur and Derrida on the textuality of immortality

Philosophy and Social Criticism 37 (2):239-247 (2011)


In the ninth fragment of his posthumous work Living Up to Death , Paul Ricoeur reflects on Jacques Derrida’s final interview given to the French newspaper Le Monde just months prior to his death. Although he confesses to a genuine distanciation from Derrida regarding salient aspects of their individual memento mori , he does so within the context of significant concessions of agreement. I argue in this article that their differing positions de facto agree at a critical structural level with reference to the possibility of positing something akin to a textual immortality. Both contend that traces of the author remain in the corpus of a work, a remainder that allows for a form of resurrection through reading. By analogizing their perspectives with Rudolf Bultmann’s kerygmatic resurrection of Christ in the proclaimed word, I conclude that Ricoeur and Derrida contend that one truly learns to live up to death ‘ finally ’, that is, enfin — ‘at last’, ‘after all’, or one might say, ‘ in a word ’

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B. Keith Putt
Samford University

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