Hegel and Derrida on Forgiveness: The Impossible at the Core of the Political

Derrida Today 5 (1):55-68 (2012)
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Abstract

In order to illuminate the very complex relationship between ethics and politics in the thought of Jacques Derrida, this paper stages the (dis)encounter between Hegel's and Derrida's notion of forgiveness. It will be shown how for these two authors forgiveness is closely related both with certain ‘impossibility’, and with the disclosure of a condition for rethinking the ethico-political realm. Both Hegel and Derrida seem to suggest that forgiveness opens up a realm in which something must remain ‘absolute’, that is to say, ‘intact, inaccessible to law, to politics, even to morals’. And, for both, it seems to be precisely there, where something arrives at the verge of politics, that a thinking (and a re-thinking) of the ‘political’ becomes possible. The paper explores what kind of impossibility is staged in each case, and how can each one bring into light the risks and limits, but also the scope and significance of the other

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