Phenomenological futures in dispute: Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Nancy

South African Journal of Philosophy 32 (4):383-394 (2013)
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This discussion consists of five sections, beginning with a pair of citations marking up a politics of inclusion, and exclusion in philosophical discussion. The second section, focusing on the first part of this essay’s title, ‘Phenomenological futures in dispute’, locates three inflections of the notion of the future, in the context of an encounter between phenomenology and Marxism. The third section proposes two rewritings of the subtitle, in terms of thematics, as opposed to using proper names as indices for theoretical orientations. The first rewriting retrieves Heidegger’s notions of tradition, as both transmission and inheritance. This opens up a givenness of a futural horizon to alternating versions of futures; the second rewriting then offers modes of evaluating these alternating futures, in a contestation between a patriarchal, a differentiated, and a neutral mode of transmission. A fourth section raises some further questions of methodology, indicating the manner in which a rethinking of religion and of theology returns within phenomenology. In an inconclusive summary, the paper returns to the point of departure, the first version of a relation of non-relation, in a disputed connection to be set out between philosophy, a politics of exclusion, and psychoanalytical accounts of political investment. The paper seeks to locate a relation of non-relation, both in the failed encounters between Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Nancy, with respect to phenomenology and its futures, and in the re-emergence, as non-relation, of the formative function within phenomenology of religious precursors, preconditions and commitments



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