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Rearticulating the Concept of Experience, Rethinking the Demands of Deconstruction

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Abstract A principle aim of this paper is to convince friends and critics of deconstruction that they have overlooked two crucial aspects of Derrida’s work, namely, his rearticulation of the concept of experience and his account of the experience of undecidability as an ordeal. This is important because sensitivity to Derrida’s emphasis on the ordeal of undecidability and his rearticulation of the concept of experience—a rearticulation that is already under way in his early engagement with Husserl and continued in later work—necessitates a rethinking of what the ‘experience of undecidability’ entails. Rather than signaling a withdrawal from politics or a normatively impotent ethics of ‘mere openness to the other,’ Derrida’s account of the experience of undecidability not only points to a fundamental aspect of our basic ethical experience but also leads to a number of ethico-political demands, which I summarize as the demand to maintain an ethos of interruption.

Affiliations: 1: University of Essex

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