Derrida's work on hospitality presents particular local conventions of hospitality as in a necessary but impossible relationship with an absolute hospitality, the obligation to welcome the other without conditions. Although this absolute hospitality is commonly read as the aspiration to which all of our practices of hospitality should tend, Derrida proposes a series of examples that show the dangers implicit in an automatic or limitless welcoming. The most famous of these is that of the Old Testament patriarch, Lot. The aim (...) of this paper is to show, however, that the Genesis story is not primarily a parable about correct and incorrect practices of hospitality. In fact, what is at stake in the visit of the angels to Lot is the covenant between Abraham's line and the divine and the coming into the world of God's absolute sovereign violence. Derrida's account of hospitality is thus part of his discussion of sovereignty, its limitlessness, force and danger. (shrink)
Nothing is more definitive of war than its relationship with peace. But what is peace? This paper investigates the problematic nature of peace in the philosophical discourse on war, by investigating two key strands of thinking. Firstly, Hobbes and Foucault see peace as the place where the impulses that give rise to war can be re-directed and even satisfied, often in disguise. Another strand, in Kant and Levinas, different but not fully separable from the first, sees peace as what lies (...) beyond war, though war must be endured in order to reach it. These different accounts present war and peace not as binary opposites, nor even as fully distinguishable from one another. Instead, they are shown to be mutually dependant and entangled with one another. The paper ends with a brief analysis of the January 6, 2021 insurrection in the United States, in order to illustrate this complex entanglement between war and peace and reveal the obscure, even hallucinatory nature of the concept of peace. (shrink)
This paper attempts to provide, through a reading of Derrida's Rogues, an account of the political phenomenon where regimes of sovereignty are resisted in the name of the very values — freedom, democracy and human rights, for example — they purport to stand for. To Derrida, sovereignty must simultaneously conform to a logic of both self-identity and of unconditionality. However, the unconditionality that makes sovereignty possible will always threaten and exceed it, something that other accounts like Agamben's try implicitly to (...) deny. In the end, for Derrida, our present political challenge is to recognize, and even affirm, the way the unconditionality of sovereignty is turned against itself. Sovereignty, then, is most effectively dealt with not by imagining a world in which it will no longer occur, nor by simple opposition, but by committing to the very logic of sovereignty itself. (shrink)
A critical analysis of the philosophy of sovereignty from Hobbes through Derrida, arguing that we need to re-invent sovereignty as a motive for democratic political action while remaining alert to its dangers, specifically its relationship to violence.
No topic has caused more discussion in recent philosophy and political theory than sovereignty. From late Foucault to Agamben, and from Guantanamo Bay to the 'war on terror,' the issue of the extent and the nature of the sovereign has given theoretical debates their currency and urgency. New thinking on sovereignty has always imagined the styles of human selfhood that each regime involves. Each denomination of sovereignty requires a specific mode of subjectivity to explain its meaning and facilitate its operation. (...) The aim of this book is to help outline Jacques Derrida's thinking on sovereignty - a theme which increasingly attracted Derrida towards the end of his career - in its relationship to subjectivity. It investigates the late work Rogues: Two Essays on Reason, as not only Derrida's fullest statement of his thinking on sovereignty, but also as the destination of his career-long interest in questions of politics and self-identity. The book argues that in Derrida's thinking of the relationship between sovereignty and subjectivity - and the related themes of unconditionality and ipseity - we can detect the outline of Bataille's adaptation of Freud. Freud completed his 'metapsychology,' by defining the 'economic' nature of subjectivity. In Bataille's hands, this economic theory became a key to the nature of inter-relationship in general, specifically the complex and shifting relationship between subjectivity and power. In playing with Bataille's legacy, Derrida connects not only with the irrepressibly outrageous thinking of philosophy's most self-consciously transgressive thinker, but with the early twentieth century scientific revolution through which 'energy' became ontology. As with so many of the forebears who influenced him, Derrida echoes and adapts Bataille's thinking while radically de-literalising it. The results are crucial for understanding Derrida's views on power, subjectivity and representation, as well as all of the other key themes in late Derrida: hospitality, justice, otherness and the gift. (shrink)
War is always defined in relation to something else: peace, society, civilization, friendship or love. What is the relationship between war and its "other"? Are they opposites or versions of one another? This book surveys four hundred years of thinking about the definition of war, from Hobbes and Clausewitz to Badiou and Žižek.
Democracy is usually identified with openness, order and pluralism and thus peace. Yet, everywhere, from the political convulsions that bring it into being to the wars that aim to extend it, democracy is violent. Usually this violence is seen as accidental or forced upon democracy. The aim of this paper is to argue that the violence of democracy springs from its inextricable if denied relationship to revolution, the drive to re-found the political order properly and definitively. Through a reading of (...) Derrida’s account of the relationship between violence and justice in Walter Benjamin, violence is identified as the unstable founding moment which democracy must both pass through in order to emerge and also endlessly recall in its drive to both expand and complete its mission. (shrink)