Journal Article

THINKING ABOUT <i>FIRE</i>; DERRIDA AND JUDAISM

Steven Shakespeare

in Literature and Theology

Volume 12, issue 3, pages 242-255
Published in print September 1998 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online September 1998 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/12.3.242
THINKING ABOUT FIRE; DERRIDA AND JUDAISM

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This paper examines Derrida's ambiguous relationship to his jewish background, focusing on the motifs of writing, witnesing and circumcision. Whilst Derrida does not situate himself within a living Jewish tradition, his use of such motifs is part of a strategy of unsettling the borders of philosophical discourse They help to articulate an ethical impulse at the heart of deconstruction Although Derrida is criticised in this paper for potentially reducing categories like ‘Judaism’ and ‘holocaust’ to empty, ahistorical ciphers, it is argued that his motivation is to open philosophical and theological discourses to a real engagement with an irreducuble ‘other’.

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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