On the Edge of Affirmation: Derrida

Benjamin Noys

in The Persistence of the Negative

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780748638635
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671915 | DOI:
On the Edge of Affirmation: Derrida

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The work of Jacques Derrida is usually characterised as dominated by themes of delay, deferral, and prevarication. Taking seriously Derrida’s own self-characterisation, this chapter argues that his thinking of deconstruction is fundamentally affirmative. This ‘weak affirmationism’ is primarily articulated through Derrida’s remarkably uncritical deployment of the work of Friedrich Nietzsche. The difficulty is that this use of Nietzsche fails to attend to the reactionary elements of Nietzsche’s thinking, and particularly his emphasis on hierarchy and rank. This Nietzschean tone is critiqued through a stress on the politics of Derrida’s thinking and especially his equivocal use of the notion of ‘hauntology’ and spectrality. It is argued that this ‘spectral’ thinking presents an engagement with capitalism, but one flawed by its inability to grasp the forces of abstraction that capitalism deploys.

Keywords: Jacques Derrida; Deconstruction; Nietzsche; Hauntology; Abstraction

Chapter.  11628 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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