Oxford Literary Review 43 (2):183-208 (2021)

Derrida's essay, ‘Devant la loi’, opens with the citation of an1897 letter from Freud to his friend, Wilhelm Fliess, in which he confides that he has a presentiment he shall soon discover the origin of morality. What interests Derrida is not only the discovery that will indeed soon follow but the temporal structure of presentiment itself. Seeking to give such a vague intimation a more rigorous sense, he theorizes presentiment as a way of ‘precognizing’ something that will never otherwise have been known as such. Through close readings of Kafka, Freud and Kant, Derrida asks how the moral law itself might be thinkable only in the mode of a certain pre-, a mode whose very ‘beforeness’ has to be radically rethought.
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DOI 10.3366/olr.2021.0361
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