In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews409 resistance to the essentializing tendency within movements, however important and progressive. Her dialectically oriented meditation upon feminist dieory and practice, upon the plural forces at work on our lives and values, is a refreshing corrective to die tendency to universalize inherent in dieory itself. University of Illinois-ChicagoRuth El Saffar OfSpirit: Heidegger and tL· (Question, byJacques Derrida; translated by Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby; vii & 139 pp. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, $19.95. The difficulty in raising serious questions about Heidegger's work has been that internal critiques seem to repeat what Heidegger said in the language in which he said it, while external critiques seem to beg the question against a thinker who sought a fundamental change in thought itself. Derrida's new work sets aside these alternatives by asking, "What determines the privilege of the question in Heideggerian thought?" and "What is the relation between this privilege and the nature of Spirit?" For Derrida these are deeply political questions that nonetheless compel us to reexaminejust what the "political" means. Thus he will show the way Heidegger's thinking of Spirit is "translated" into die events of a history that includes both Nazism and the Holocaust. But he does so in a way that challenges both those "internal" readers of Heidegger who would rescue his thought from such a "translation," and those "external" readers who refuse to acknowledge the need to think through that "translation" to locate its alternatives. Derrida's strategy is to follow four ways in which Heidegger's attempt to maintain the purity of the internal relation between philosophical questioning and Spirit falls prey to a kind ofcontamination. Thus: a phUosophical question is not sui generis but requires a prior pragmatic commitment, a "yes, this should be questioned"; die essence of technology cannot keep itself pure of technique; there is no essential difference between humans and animals; diere is no way fora pure difference between Beingand being to determine a "spiritual" history. In each case, a horror of contaminating something that should remain pure— the question, essence, the human, the history of Being—leads to a denial of some part of the complexity Heidegger is seeking to understand. It is this horror of contamination at the heart of a passion for purity that governs Derrida's asking whether Heidegger's critique of Nazi biological racism is not in the service of a metaphysical racism, as well as the questions he poses about 410Philosophy and Literature the interweaving of Heidegger's interpretation of Spirit as flame and the ashes of die Holocaust. Does this Heideggerian insistence on pure questioning lead dien to sometiiing monstrous? Or is it necessary in a time diat refuses to give thought to Spirit? Todaywheneveryone knowsabout"Heideggerand Nazism," DerridachaUenges us to take both these questions seriously and ask what "monstrosity" could mean here and what such monstrosity could do with the avoidance—or acknowledgment —of the need to diink of Spirit. Are we open to such a chaUenge? For Heidegger's "external" critics, Derrida wül not seem to take die notion of die "horror" at work in Heideggerian thought seriously enough, whUe for Heidegger's "internal" friends, it wül seem that he is taking it too seriously. These responses reflect the problem that different attunements of thought are not open to each other's horror, and dius refuse its chaUenge. And this leads us to a footnote in which Derrida says "the enigma of die deinon leaves its mark on all the texts we shaU have to approach" (p. 1 16). What enigma is this? Deinon in Greek weaves together terror and wonder in articulating the address of the uncanny. The weaving together of flame and ashes in the way Heidegger's thought of Spirit is translated into his sUence concerning the Holocaust is deinon—-but do we know how to think this? Derrida's reply is to imagine a conversation between Heidegger and certain Christian theologians on the promise ofanother spirituality, a conversation that unfolds in the shadow of the question of the cultural origins of Nazism. This conversation is an attempt to locate a path on which we can experience what is genuinely deinon about the "translation" ofthought...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 409-410
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.