Chapter

Posthumous Infidelity: Derrida, Levinas and the Third

Derek Attridge

in Reading and Responsibility

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780748640089
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652112 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748640089.003.0007
Posthumous Infidelity: Derrida, Levinas and the Third

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Death was not only a structural principle for Jacques Derrida. There is a double difficulty in attempting to do justice to Emmanuel Levinas's work on responsibility to the other. Derrida's long essay on Levinas was at once generous in drawing attention to the importance of Levinas's work and exacting in its critique of some of that work's central claims and methods. Derrida's later essay showed his fidelity to Levinas through infidelity, by means of a careful and respectful questioning of the older writer's mode of argumentation and his privileging of the masculine. Derrida's conviction that the third arrives without waiting and thus forestalls the violence of the other signals both his fidelity to his dead friend's thought and, as itself a mark of the third complicating that relation, his willingness to let it be remade by his own inventiveness – though Derrida, of course, does not put it in this way.

Keywords: Jacques Derrida; Emmanuel Levinas; infidelity; fidelity; violence

Chapter.  9514 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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