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“World, Solitude, Finitude”: Derrida’s Final Seminar

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image of Research in Phenomenology

AbstractIn his final seminar, The Beast and the Sovereign, vol. 2 (2002–2003), Jacques Derrida spends the entire year reading just two texts, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Martin Heidegger’s Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics. This essay looks in detail at Derrida’s treatment of this latter and, in particular, at Derrida’s emphasis on the Heideggerian notion of Walten (as sovereign power or originary violence) in this work. The essay begins by considering several of Derrida’s prior engagements with Heidegger, especially in Of Spirit and the “Geschlecht” essays, and their analyses of such themes as Geist or spirit, sexual and species difference, violence, and ontotheology. The essay then develops the relationship between what Derrida considered to be the hyper-sovereignty of Walten and Derrida’s own notions of autoimmunity and différance, before concluding with the question of why Derrida would think it necessary to devote so much of his final seminar to this Heideggerian notion.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, DePaul University Chicago, IL 60614 USA


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