To Learn to Live with Spectral Justice: Derrida–Levinas

Derrida Today 5 (2):232-247 (2012)
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Abstract

Early on in Specters of Marx, the first sentence in Exordium reads: ‘Someone, you or me, comes forward and says: I would like to learn to live finally’. In the last paragraph of the last chapter, Derrida gives the injunction: ‘If he loves justice at least, the “scholar” of the future, the “intellectual” of tomorrow should learn it and from the ghost’. The ghost is the gift Derrida leaves us, yet, what can ghosts teach us about justice and how may we (dare we) learn from them? Derrida invokes Levinas's name for the only time in Specters of Marx, with the line ‘The relation to others – that is to say, justice, writes Levinas’. From ‘Violence and Metaphysics’ to ‘At This Very Moment in This Work Here I Am’, the spectral relation between Derrida and Levinas already performs spectral justice. How do we say ‘J'accepte’ to spectral justice – justice that we cannot rightly possess? The figure and logic of the ghost serve not merely rhetorical purposes but, in its non-presence and presence, the ghost becomes the trace of the justice that we can neither own nor disown, but need to learn to live with, even if, in politics and in life, the fear of ghosts remains

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References found in this work

Totality and infinity.Emmanuel Levinas - 1961/1969 - Pittsburgh,: Duquesne University Press.
Writing and difference.Jacques Derrida - 1978 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Otherwise Than Being, or, Beyond Essence.Emmanuel Levinas - 1974 - Pittsburgh, Pa.: Duquesne University Press.
Otherwise than being: or, Beyond essence.Emmanuel Levinas - 1974 - Hingham, MA: Distributors for the U.S. and Canada, Kluwer Boston.

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