The Letter and the Witness: Agamben, Heidegger, and Derrida

Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 46 (4):292-306 (2015)
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In Remnants of Auschwitz, Agamben introduces a particular conception of bearing witness to overcome the problems contained in an account of language that depends on the voice or the letter. From his earlier work, it is clear that his critique of the voice and the letter is not only directed to ancient and medieval metaphysics, but also concerns Heidegger's account of the voice and Derrida's account of the letter and writing. Yet, if Agamben is correct in claiming that bearing witness offers an alternative to Heidegger's voice and Derrida's letter, it is remarkable – a fact unnoticed in the available literature – that Agamben does not discuss how these conceptions of the voice and the letter are intrinsically connected to the problem of testimony for Heidegger as well as Derrida. To show how this lack of attention to bearing witness in Heidegger and Derrida affects Agamben's critique, this article proceeds as follows. First, we interpret Agamben's critique of Heidegger's conception of the voice and Derrida..



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