La langue de bois propre aux régimes totalitaires peut être décrite avec les moyens de la linguistique comme une distorsion affectant les différentes composantes fondamentales du discours. Lorsque la langue se lignifie, il n’y a plus de sujet présent à sa propre parole ; plus de référent auquel la parole se rapporte ; plus d’interlocuteur véritable ni d’échange vivant entre les interlocuteurs ; plus de va-et-vient entre la parole et les ressources de la langue. Mais étant donné que toute (...) communication est problématique, c’est-à-dire non assurée d’avance, il n’existe aucun autre remède à la lignification de la langue qu’une pratique langagière libre qui met en œuvre ces différentes composantes.The characteristic « wooden language » of totalitarian bureaucracies can be described in linguistic terms as a distortion of the various « fundamental components of speech ». When language turns « wooden », there is no longer a « subject » or « referent » to whom or to which the words apply, no real « interlocutor », no real exchanges between interlocutors, and no shuttle movement between speech and « the resources of the language » in which it is delivered. However, given that communication is always problematic, in that it cannot be taken for granted, there is no remedy when « language turns wooden » other than freeing it to bring all its different components into play. (shrink)
Responding to questions put to him at a Roundtable held at Villanova University in 1994, Jacques Derrida leads the reader through an illuminating discussion of the central themes of deconstruction. Speaking in English and extemporaneously, Derrida takes up with unusual clarity and great eloquence such topics as the task of philosophy, the Greeks, justice, responsibility, the gift, the community, the distinction between the messianic and the concrete messianisms, and his interpretation of James Joyce. Derrida convincingly refutes the charges of (...) relativism and nihilism that are often leveled at deconstruction by its critics and sets forth the profoundly affirmative and ethico-political thrust of his work. The “Roundtable” is marked by the unusual clarity of Derrida’s presentation and by the deep respect for the great works of the philosophical and literary tradition with which he characterizes his philosophical work. The Roundtable is annotated by John D. Caputo, the David R. Cook Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University, who has supplied cross references to Derrida’s writings where the reader may find further discussion on these topics. Professor Caputo has also supplied a commentary which elaborates the principal issues raised in the Roundtable. In all, this volume represents one of the most lucid, compact and reliable introductions to Derrida and deconstruction available in any language. An ideal volume for students approaching Derrida for the first time, Deconstruction in a Nutshell will prove instructive and illuminating as well for those already familiar with Derrida’s work. (shrink)
The following interview took place between Jacques Bouveresse and Hilary Putnam on May 11, 2001 in Paris at the Collège de France. Sandra Laugier was present, preserved the transcription, and proposed that we publish the text here. It was translated into English by Marie Kerguelen Feldblyum LeBlevennec and lightly edited by Jacques Bouveresse, Juliet Floyd, and Sandra Laugier. Themes covered in the interview include the question of Wittgenstein’s importance in contemporary philosophy, Putnam’s development with respect to realism, especially (...) in philosophy of mathematics, and the differences and motivations for realism in mathematics, physics, and ethics. The editors thank Marie Kerguelen Feldblyum LeBlevennec for her translation, and Jacques Bouveresse, Mario De Caro, and Sandra Laugier for permission to publish this transcription. (shrink)
Philosophers of science debate the proper role of non-epistemic value judgements in scientific reasoning. Many modern authors oppose the value free ideal, claiming that we should not even try to get scientists to eliminate all such non-epistemic value judgements from their reasoning. W. E. B. Du Bois, on the other hand, has a defence of the value free ideal in science that is rooted in a conception of the proper place of science in a democracy. In particular, Du (...) class='Hi'>Bois argues that the value free ideal must be upheld in order to, first, retain public trust in science and, second, ensure that those best placed to make use of scientifically acquired information are able to do so. This latter argument turns out to relate Du Bois’ position on the value free ideal in science to his defence of epistemic democracy. In this essay I elaborate, motivate, and relate to the modern debate, Du Bois’ under-appreciated defence of the value free ideal. (shrink)
Jacques Derrida: Law as Absolute Hospitalityãeepresents a comprehensive account and understanding of Derridaâe(tm)s approach to law and justice. Through a detailed reading of Derridaâe(tm)s texts, Jacques de Ville contends that it is only by way of Derrida's deconstruction of the metaphysics of presence, and specifically in relation to the texts of Husserl, Levinas, Freud and Heidegger - that the reasoning behind his elusive works on law and justice can be grasped. Through detailed readings of texts such as To (...) speculate âe" on Freud, Adieu, Declarations of Independence, Before the Law, Cogito and the history of madness, Given Time, Force of Law and Specters of Marx, De Ville contends that there is a continuity in Derridaâe(tm)s thinking, and rejects the idea of an âe~ethical turnâe(tm). Derrida is shown to be neither a postmodernist nor a political liberal, but a radical revolutionary. De Ville also controversially contends that justice in Derridaâe(tm)s thinking must be radically distinguished from Levinasâe(tm)s reflections on âe~the otherâe(tm). It is the notion of absolute hospitality - which Derrida derives from Levinas, but radically transforms - that provides the basis of this argument. Justice must on De Villeâe(tm)s reading be understood in terms of a demand of absolute hospitality which is imposed on both the individual and the collective subject. A much needed account of Derrida's influential approach to law,ãeeJacques Derrida: Law as Absolute Hospitalityãeewill be an invaluable resource for those with an interest in legal theory, and for those with an interest in the ethics and politics of deconstruction. (shrink)
Presenting with moving insight the relations between man, as a person and as an individual, and the society of which he is a part, Maritain's treatment of a lasting topic speaks to this generation as well as those to come. Maritain employs the personalism rooted in Aquinas's doctrine to distinguish between social philosophy centered in the dignity of the human person and that centered in the primacy of the individual and the private good.
Frederick Watkins’ 1953 edition of Rousseau’s _Political Writings_ has long been noted for being fully accurate while representing much of Rousseau’s eloquence and elegance. It contains what is widely regarded as the finest English translation of _The Social Contract_, Rousseau’s greatest political treatise. In addition, this edition offers the best available translation of the late and important _Government of Poland_ and the only published English translation of the fragment _Constitutional Project for Corsica_, which, says Watkins, provides the clearest possible demonstration (...) of the practical implications of Rousseau’s political thought. (shrink)
In this 2004 interview — translated into English and published in its entirety for the first time — Jacques Derrida reflects upon his practices of writing and teaching, about the community of his readers, and explores questions related to corporeity and textuality, sexual difference, desire, politics, Marxism, violence, truth, interpretation, and translation. In the course of the interview, Derrida discusses the work of Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Maurice Blanchot, Hélène Cixous, Jean Genet, Paul Celan, and many others.
In this essay and the next, on Foucault, Derrida reencounters two thinkers to whom he had earlier devoted important essays, which precipitated stormy discussions and numerous divisions within the intellectual milieus influenced by their ...
One of the most influential and controversial thinkers of the twentieth-century, Jacques Derrida’s ideas on deconstruction have had a lasting impact on philosophy, literature and cultural studies. Jacques Derrida: Basic Writings is the first anthology to present his most important philosophical writings and is an indispensable resource for all students and readers of his work. Barry Stocker’s clear and helpful introductions set each reading in context, making the volume an ideal companion for those coming to Derrida’s writings for (...) the first time. The selections themselves range from his most infamous works including Speech and Phenomena and Writing and Difference to lesser known discussion on aesthetics, ethics and politics. (shrink)
This chapter introduces W.E.B. Du Bois’s original political thought and his strategies for political advocacy. It is limited to explaining the pressure he puts on the liberal social contract tradition, which prioritizes the public values of freedom and equality for establishing fair and inclusive terms of political membership. However, unlike most liberal theorists, Du Bois’s political thought concentrates on the politics of race, colonialism, gender, and labor, among other themes, in order to redefine how political theorists and activists (...) should build a democratic polity that is truly free and equal for all. Additionally, this chapter defines some key concepts Du Bois developed to scrutinize a white-controlled world that does not welcome black and brown persons as moral equals. These trailblazing concepts include: the doctrine of racialism, double consciousness, and Pan-Africanism. Finally, this chapter defends Du Bois’s contributions to black feminist thought and American labor politics, which inspired major social justice movements in the twentieth century, in which he played a notable role. (shrink)
With this book, Jacques Barzun pays what he describes as an "intellectual debt" to William James—psychologist, philosopher, and, for Barzun, guide and mentor. Commenting on James's life, thought, and legacy, Barzun leaves us with a wise and civilized distillation of the great thinker's work.
"One of the major works in the development of contemporary criticism and philosophy." -- J. Hillis Miller, Yale University Jacques Derrida's revolutionary theories about deconstruction, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and structuralism, first voiced in the 1960s, forever changed the face of European and American criticism. The ideas in De la grammatologie sparked lively debates in intellectual circles that included students of literature, philosophy, and the humanities, inspiring these students to ask questions of their disciplines that had previously been considered improper. Thirty (...) years later, the immense influence of Derrida's work is still igniting controversy, thanks in part to Gayatri Spivak's translation, which captures the richness and complexity of the original. This corrected edition adds a new index of the critics and philosophers cited in the text and makes one of contemporary criticism's most indispensable works even more accessible and usable. (shrink)
[First paragraphs: This essay takes its practical orientation from my experiences as a member of a philosophy reading group on death row at Riverbend Maximum Security Penitentiary in Nashville, Tennessee. Its theoretical orientation comes from W. E. B. Du Bois’ lecture-turned-essay, “Criteria of Negro Art,” which argues that the realm of aesthetics is vitally important in the war against racial discrimination in the United States. And since, according to Michele Alexander’s critically-acclaimed The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the (...) Age of Colorblindness, the prison system should be the primary front today in this war, my essay’s ultimate aim is t/o articulate a new criterion of the present-day “Negro” art being created by a prison population that is still overwhelmingly constituted by persons of color. In my first section, I will show how Du Bois’ insights in “Criteria of Negro Art” remain relevant today, especially in the prison context, and argue that it is thus appropriate for my new criterion to be shaped by his distinctive conception of “propaganda.” In my second section, through a close reading of two texts by Michel Foucault (the pivotal thinker of modern imprisonment), I will flesh out this new criterion, “self-torsion,” defined as the effect of prisoners’ attempts at self-care within a prison system that distorts those attempts into further exploitation of both prisoners and the outside world that imprisons them. And my final section, in an attempt to illustrate this new criterion’s efficacy as a form of propagandistic resistance to contemporary racism, will deploy self-torsion as a critique of two artworks created by imprisoned members of my reading group at Riverbend penitentiary. (shrink)
Contemporary biologists are not agreed on the question of whether there are any human races, despite the widespread scientific consensus on the underlying genetics. For most purposes, however, we can reasonably treat this issue as terminological. What most people in most cultures ordinarily believe about the significance of “racial” difference is quite remote, I think, from what the biologists are agreed on. Every reputable biologist will agree that human genetic variability between the populations of Africa or Europe or Asia is (...) not much greater than that within those populations; though how much greater depends, in part, on the measure of genetic variability the biologist chooses. If biologists want to make interracial difference seem relatively large, they can say that “the proportion of genic variation attributable to racial differences is … 9 – 11%.”1 If they want to make it seem small, they can say that, for two people who are both Caucasoid, the chances of difference in genetic constitution at one site on a given chromosome are currently estimated at about 14.3 percent, while for any two people taken at random from the human population, they are estimated at about 14.8 percent. The statistical facts about the distribution of variant characteristics in human populations and subpopulations are the same, whichever way the matter is expressed. Apart from the visible morphological characteristics of skin, hair, and bone, by which we are inclined to assign people to the broadest racial categories—black, white, yellow—there are few genetic characteristics to be found in the population of England that are not found in similar proportions in Zaire or in China; and few too which are found in Zaire but not in similar proportions in China or in England. All this, I repeat, is part of the consensus . A more familiar part of the consensus is that the differences between peoples in language, moral affections, aesthetic attitudes, or political ideology—those differences which most deeply affect us in our dealings with each other—are not biologically determined to any significant degree.[…]In this essay, I want to discuss the way in which W. E. B. Du Bois—who called his life story the “autobiography of a race concept”—came gradually, though never completely, to assimilate the unbiological nature of races. I have made these few prefatory remarks partly because it is my experience that the biological evidence about race is not sufficiently known and appreciated but also because they are important in discussing Du Bois. Throughout his life, Du Bois was concerned not just with the meaning of race but with the truth about it. We are more inclined at present, however, not to express our understanding of the intellectual development of people and cultures as a movement toward the truth; I shall sketch some of the reasons for this at the end of the essay. I will begin, therefore, by saying what I think the rough truth is about race, because, against the stream, I am disposed to argue that this struggle toward the truth is exactly what we find in the life of Du Bois, who can claim, in my view, to have thought longer, more engagedly, and more publicly about race than any other social theorist of our century. 1. Masatoshi Nei and Arun K. Roychoudhury, “Genetic Relationship and Evolution of Human Races,” Evolutionary Biology 14 : 11; all further references to this work, abbreviated “GR,” will be included in the text. Anthony Appiah is associate professor of philosophy, African studies, and Afro-American studies at Yale. He is the author of Assertion and Conditionals and For Truth in Semantics . In addition, he is at work on African Reflections: Essays in the Philosophy of Culture. (shrink)
These two lectures by Jacques Derrida, 'Foreigner Question: Come from Abroad' and 'Step of Hospitality/No Hospitality', derive from a series of seminars on 'hospitality' conducted by Derrida in Paris, January 1996. The book consists of two texts on facing pages. 'Invitation' by Anne Dufourmantelle appears on the left clarifying and inflecting Derrida's 'response' on the right. The interaction between them not only enacts the 'hospitality' under discussion, but preserves something of the rhythms of teaching. The book also characteristically combines (...) careful readings of canonical texts and philosophical topics with attention to the most salient events in the contemporary world, using 'hospitality' as a means of rethinking a range of political and ethical situations. For example, Antigone is revisited in light of the question of impossible mourning; the trial of Socrates is brought into conjunction with the televised funeral of François Mitterrand. (shrink)
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