Neither the Condition nor the Outcome of Ethics: Derrida, Levinas, and the Deduction of a Politics from Ethics

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Bernasconi, Robert
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서울대학교 철학사상연구소
철학사상, Vol.15, n1, pp.23-45
In "Passions: 'An Oblique Offering'" Derrida summarized the debate about the relation of deconstruction to ethics. He saw a split between, on the one hand, those who criticize deconstruction as a modern form of immorality and irresponsibility and, on the other hand, those who were encouraged to find signs in his more recent texts that he had become more interested in ethics. In "Passions," Derrida rejected both observations as leading toward a restoration of morality and thus, in his view, a new dogmatic slumber. Derrida professed that he could imagine nothing worse than a community of complacent deconstructionists, happy in their good conscience. For himself, Derrida questioned the very names ethics, morality, politics, responsibility and the subject. Without underwriting any of these terms, he posed the questions "What is the ethicity of ethics", the morality of morality? What is responsibility? What is the 'what is?' in this case?, etc." According to Derrida's 1964 essay on Levinas, "Violence and Metaphysics," Levinas did not seek to propose laws or moral rules, nor determine a morality, but rather he attempted to uncover the essence of the ethical relation in general. Derrida called it "an Ethics of Ethics." That Derrida correctly identified what Levinas had attempted and what he left to one side was later confirmed by him when he explained, "My task does not consist of constructing ethics; I only try to find its meaning." However, Levinas added immediately that it would be possible to construct an ethics on the basis of his philosophy, "but that is not my own theme". Levinas thereby made room for a possible deduction of rules on the basis of what he called ethics. Over the years Derrida repeatedly returned to that question, and in what follows I will explore some of his discussions of it, paying particular attention to the relation of ethics and politics.
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College of Humanities (인문대학)Philosophy (철학과)철학사상철학사상 15호 (2002)
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