Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas by Jacques Derrida

By Jacques Derrida

This quantity comprises the speech given through Derrida at Emmanuel Levinas's funeral on December 27, 1995, and his contribution to a colloquium geared up to mark the 1st anniversary of Levinas's demise. For either thinkers, the notice adieu names a basic attribute of individual: the salutation or benediction sooner than all constative language (in yes situations, you can actually say adieu in the interim of assembly) and that given in the mean time of separation, occasionally ceaselessly, as in the meanwhile of dying, it's also the a-dieu, for God or to God sooner than and in any relation to the opposite.

In this e-book, Derrida extends his paintings on Levinas in formerly unexplored instructions through an intensive rereading of Totality and Infinity and different texts, together with the lesser-known talmudic readings. He argues that Levinas, in particular in Totality and Infinity, bequeaths to us an "immense treatise of hospitality," a meditation at the welcome provided to the opposite. The conjunction of an ethics of natural prescription with the belief of an unlimited and absolute hospitality confronts us with the main urgent political, juridical, and institutional issues of our time. What, then, is an ethics and what's a politics of hospitality? And what, if it ever is, will be a hospitality surpassing any ethics and any politics we know?

As consistently, Derrida increases those questions within the such a lot specific of phrases, relocating from side to side among philosophical argument and the political dialogue of immigration legislation, peace, the nation of Israel, xenophobia—reminding us with each stream that pondering isn't really a question of neutralizing abstraction, yet a gesture of hospitality for what occurs and nonetheless may perhaps occur.

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The sentence whose reading I interrupted and digressed from a few moments ago ("It [intentionality, conscious­ ness of ] is attention to speech or welcome of the face, . . A Word of Welcome hospitality and not thematization") proposes a series of equivalences. But what is the copula doing in this serial . proposition? It binds together phenomena of unbinding [deliaison] . It assumes that this approach of the face-as intentionality or welcome, that is, as hospitality-remains inseparable from separation itself.

The classical form of this question would perhaps be found in the figure of a founding or legitimating founda­ tion. It might be asked, for example, whether the ethics of hospitality that we will try to analyze in Levinas's thought would be able to found a law and a politics, beyond the fa­ milial dwelling, within a society, nation, State, or Nation­ State. This question is no doubt serious, difficult, and neces­ sary, but it is already canonical. We will try to subordinate it to another suspensive question, to what might be called a sort of epoche.

When Levinas says "justice," we are also authorized to hear "law," it seems to me. ) To my knowledge, peryury is not a theme in Levinas, nor is oath-and I do not recall having come across or no­ ticed these words in the writings that concern us. Whence 34 A Word of Welcome the necessity of specifying an "oath before the letter," which would also mean, and this time we would be very close to the letter of Levinas's text, a debt before every contract or loan. "22 An . intolerable scandal: even if Levinas never puts it this way, justice commits perjury as easily as it breathes; it be­ trays the "primordial word of honor" and swears [jurer] only to perjure, to swear falsely [paryurer], swear off [ab­ jurer] or swear at [injurier] .

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