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MLN 119.5 (2004) 1129-1133



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Jacques Derrida, Eyes of the University: Right to Philosophy 2. Translated by Jan Plug et al. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004. xi + 303 pages.

As the lead translator, Jan Plug, remarks in his Foreword, Eyes of the University renders the second and third parts of Derrida's massive volume entitled Du droit à l'Université (1990), the first part of which was previously published (in the same Stanford series) as Who's Afraid of Philosophy? (2002). Together the two English volumes collect Derrida's responses to the political and pedagogical issues raised by the "Réforme Haby" under Giscard, and his engagement with specific counter-moves: the organization of Greph, the convening of the 1979 États Généraux de la Philosophie, and the establishment, under Mitterand, of the Collège International de Philosophie. Beyond the specific issues related to teaching and research in the schools and higher education, Derrida ranges widely over the history of academic institutions and their relation to the State, offering a critique of philosophy as an institution itself, both in France and more globally. The papers, lectures, and interviews were written over a 15-year period but have an urgency and internal coherence grounded in Derrida's personal conception of the philosopher's vocation.

The first section of Eyes of the University, "Transfer Ex Cathedra: Language and Institutions of Philosophy," consists of four lectures given at the University of Toronto in 1984. In the first two lectures Derrida explores the implications of the establishment of French as the State language of instruction and Descartes' decision to write the Discours in French for an understanding of the relation between natural languages and philosophic discourse. The final two lectures turn to the rise of the new university in Germany at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries. Kant and Schelling are construed as the philosophic begetters of the German model, of which modern universities remain the heirs.

The second section, "Mochlos: Eyes of the University," gathers texts from various sites and occasions (several in North America) that all return to the institutional history of the university and its impact upon teaching and [End Page 1129] research in philosophy. Throughout these texts Derrida returns to engage Kant and to ask again the question raised by the latter about what it means to learn to philosophize. Here as elsewhere in the book Derrida chooses to cast his reflections in the interrogative—directed toward himself and his colleagues as well as toward the institutions he is interrogating.

The last 100 pages of Eyes of the University are devoted to a series of Appendices comprised of papers, communications, and round-table discussion relevant to the issues raised in the wake of the Réforme Haby; two longish reports ("Titles" and "Sendoffs") concerning the founding of the Collège International de Philosophie are of special interest. The editors and translators have supplied a palimpsest of detailed notes that should help the non-French reader navigate the sea of institutional acronyms. An index would have been a welcome addition to this admirably executed volume.

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Jacques Derrida, Rogues: Two Essays on Reason. Translated by Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Nass. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005. xv + 175 pages.

This volume is a translation of Derrida's timely examination of the history and consequences of the concept of sovereignty, Voyous (2003). Rogues is comprised of two major lectures that he delivered in the summer of 2002 investigating the foundations of the sovereignty of the modern nation-state. The translators choose "rogue-state" to render "État voyou," and it is this outlaw designation of certain countries by leading global powers that Derrida rigorously and exhaustively investigates. Not surprisingly, what is at issue here is the deconstructibility of sovereignty.

Derrida examines the history of the concept of sovereignty, engaging with the work of Bodin, Hobbes, Rousseau, Schmitt, and more recent political theorists. Against this background he delineates his understanding of "democracy to come," which he distinguishes clearly from any kind of regulating ideal or teleological horizon. The idea that democracy will always...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6598
Print ISSN
0026-7910
Pages
pp. 1129-1133
Launched on MUSE
2005-03-07
Open Access
No
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