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Philosophy Today

Volume 64, Issue 2, Spring 2020
Reading Derrida's Geschlect III: Responses to an Archival Discovery

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reading derrida’s geschlecht iii: responses to an archival discovery

1. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
Katie Chenoweth, Rodrigo Therezo

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2. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
David Farrell Krell

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Derrida’s seminar “The Phantom of the Other” (1984–1985), reads Heidegger’s “Language in the Poem” (1953), which has the poetry of Georg Trakl at its center. Among the principal themes of Derrida’s seminar and/or of Heidegger’s essay are Heidegger’s effort to “place” Trakl’s presumably single, unsung poem; the relation of pain (Schmerz) to poetry; the two “strokes” of Geschlecht, a word that in part means the sexes, the first stroke being neutral, the second being evil; the German language and the Heideggerian idiom; philosophical nationalities and nationalisms; Derridean double-reading.
3. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
Rodrigo Therezo

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This paper tracks Derrida’s allusion to the “phoenix motif” in the recently published Life Death seminar, showing how it foreshadows and overlaps with the political problematic of “national humanism” made explicit in Geschlecht III. I argue that, be it in Hegel, Fichte, Nietzsche, or Heidegger, biological life is always in the service of a spiritual life that finds its breath in a certain reappropriation of the German idiom. Following Derrida, I argue that this “philosophy-of-life German” (cet allemand philosophe de la vie) introduces a sinister equivocality between these thinkers and National Socialism, and this in spite of all their prudence to shield their discourses from such a co-option.
4. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
François Raffoul

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Derrida states at the beginning of Geschlecht III that at stake is the question of sexual difference, one that is referred in Heidegger’s 1953 essay on Trakl to a twofoldness that precedes the opposition of sexual duality, a duality which, according to Derrida, neutralizes sexual difference. I follow the development of what Derrida also called the “dream” of “another sexual difference,” one that would not be ruled by the opposition of the two. Derrida’s guiding interpretation in Geschlecht III is that Heidegger privileges “gathering” (Versammlung) and the reference to the “one” in this thinking of difference, and of sexual difference, thereby neutralizing difference. Drawing a contrast between difference as polysemy (gathered) and difference as dissemination (dispersion), I attempt in what follows to discuss Derrida’s interpretation, raising questions concerning some of his readings with respect to the motifs of dispersion, dissemination, polysemy, and gathering.
5. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
Elissa Marder

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This essay traces the pivotal—although largely unspoken—relation between the mother and language in Derrida’s reading of Heidegger’s reading of Trakl in Geschlecht III. Derrida’s gloss of the “idiom” in Heidegger’s text leads to a reflection on the language of gestation through the family of words linking “tragen” (carrying) to “austragen” (carrying to term). Following Derrida, the essay proposes that Heidegger’s conception of the time of the “unborn” in his essay “Language in the Poem” is the time of the promise and the promise of a future that would not be conceived according to a vulgar conception of time. Heidegger’s idiomatic use of the prefix “un-” in the terms “unspoken” and “unborn” can be read as a temporal inflection that opens up another kind of thinking about birth. The essay concludes by asking how the place of the mother is inscribed otherwise in this unthinking of birth.
6. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
Daniel Hoffman-Schwartz

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This article takes up the specifically poetic dimension of what Jacques Derrida calls Martin Heidegger’s “philosophical nationalism” in the recently published Geschlecht III, arguing that this text doubles as a self-interrogation of Derrida’s own practice of reading poetry. Thus reading Geschlecht III alongside the nearly contemporaneous “Shibboleth: For Paul Celan,” I claim that Derrida’s critical deconstruction of Heidegger’s philosophical-poetic nationalism both allows us to read the traces of a more affirmatively deconstructive thinking of literary community in “Shibboleth” and draws attention to the limits and traps of such a project. Further, I demonstrate that Derrida’s and Heidegger’s respective approaches to the question of literary community cannot be separated from their respective approaches to the question of translation and their respective ways of mobilizing the motif of the “untranslatable.”
7. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
Samir Haddad

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In this paper I demonstrate that the analysis supporting Derrida’s identification of the desire for a pure, originary idiom in Heidegger’s reading of Trakl in Geschlecht III provides a framework with which we can understand the call for a new language in Monolingualism of the Other. While acknowledging how his interpretation of Heidegger provides important insights that guide Derrida’s later negotiation with the dual dangers of nationalism and colonialism, I argue that the proximity to Heidegger, manifest in Derrida’s articulation of a desire for language in the singular, threatens to close down possibilities latent in the promising definition of deconstruction as plus d’une langue—both more than a language and no more of a language.
8. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
Francesco Vitale

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The article seeks to outline the relationship between Geschlecht III and Jacques Derrida’s published texts devoted to the mark “Geschlecht,” in order to detect the general strategy followed by Derrida in the construction of his archive during his lifetime. Indeed, we suppose that his archive has to be built in accordance with his deconstructive statements about the classical conception of the archive: a totalizing closure of a textual production able to trace it back to the unity of an ideal identity (Archive Fever). In particular, the article aims to focus on a passage at the end of Jacques Derrida’s Geschlecht III, where the question of the animal in Heidegger comes into the foreground and in a way that is slightly different from what we already know through Derrida’s published works and that could require a re-reading of his “entire” work.
9. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
Peggy Kamuf

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This essay proceeds from the assertion that Derrida’s work has consistently been concerned with translation. This has been clearly evident since “Plato’s Pharmacy” (1968). This concern comes to the fore in Geschlecht III, where countless features of Heidegger’s language are underscored as untranslatable. This does not prevent Derrida from proposing re-translations, of doing what he describes as “harassing” Heidegger’s language “with wave after wave of touches, caresses, and blows.” Untranslatability, as he argues here and elsewhere, is simply a matter of economy, of the one-word-for-one-word principle, according to which standard every text is untranslatable. But translation is also for Derrida a touchstone for the broadest questions posed by or to philosophy. One such important question or problem is hospitality, which, as he asserts in his 1995–1996 seminar on the topic, is “basically the same problem” as translation. This confluence of the questions of hospitality and translation is particularly relevant for his reading of Heidegger’s essay on Trakl, “Die Sprache im Gedicht.”
10. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
Geoffrey Bennington

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At an important moment in his reading of Heidegger in Geschlecht III, Derrida wields a pair of semi-technical terms (“polysemia” and “dissemination”) from his own earlier work, and uses them to identify a classical, indeed Aristotelian, vein in Heidegger’s reading of Trakl. This gesture is complex, both in that, in spite of appearances, the Mehrdeutigkeit Heidegger identifies in Trakl is not essentially to do with the term Geschlecht, and in that Derrida’s presentation of Aristotle’s views about polysemia is perhaps over-simplified, or at least leaves open the possibility of a more generous reading. Derrida’s notion of dissemination is shown not to entail a mere exacerbation of polysemia, but a quasi-semantic re-marking of the “syntax” that allows for any semantic effects at all. It is suggested that the fact that this marking can be described by Derrida as “monotonous” might open onto a slightly different reading both of Aristotle’s understanding of pollachos legomenon and pros hen, and Heidegger’s understanding of the Einklang of Trakl’s poetry.
11. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
Christian Sommer

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This article suggests that the deconstruction of Heidegger’s reading of Hölderlin in the Letter on Humanism is a precondition for what Derrida attempts to do in his commentary of Heidegger’s reading of Trakl in Geschlecht III. This preliminary deconstruction, through a constellation of Hölderlinian motifs (“homeland”, “return home”, “Occident”, “Greece”, “Germany”), controls the topology of Geschlecht III and determines Derrida’s approach to the themes of “nationality” and “philosophical nationalism”.
12. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
David Wills

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This essay considers together two recent posthumous publications by Derrida: Geschlecht III, and La vie la mort, both of which raise questions concerning translation. In Geschlecht III that is first of all the problem of how to translate the German word, how Heidegger’s reading of Trakl profits from, or loses in its translation, and how Derrida’s reading of Heidegger either does or does not translate Heidegger’s own interpretive practice. Reference to La vie la mort enables analysis of Benjamin’s concept of translation as a form of life that is “not limited to organic corporeality,” and consequently allows me to understand how Derrida’s thinking, very different from that of either Benjamin or Heidegger, takes us way back to something like originary inorganic lifedeath.
13. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
Benjamin Brewer

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14. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
Hans-Georg Gadamer, Cynthia Nielsen, Ian Alexander Moore Orcid-ID

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This is a translation of Hans-Georg Gadamer’s recently discovered 1952 Berlin speech. The speech includes several themes that reappear in Truth and Method, as well as in Gadamer’s later writings such as Reason in the Age of Science. For example, Gadamer criticizes positivism, modern philosophy’s orientation toward positivism, and Enlightenment narratives of progress, while presenting his view of philosophy’s tasks in an age of crisis. In addition, he discusses structural power, instrumental reason, the objectification of nature and human beings, the reduction of both to mere means, and the colonization of scientific-technological ways of knowing and being—all of which continue to impact our social and political lives together and threaten the very existence of every living being. This speech is essential reading for Gadamer scholars interested in the social, political, and ethical dimensions of his thought and for those interested in bringing Gadamer into conversation with critical theory.
15. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
Jürgen Habermas, Nicolas Schneider

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16. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
Alexander Crist

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review essay

17. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
Andrea Rossi

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This article is a review of two recently translated books by Italian philoso­pher Elettra Stimilli: The Debt of the Living: Ascesis and Capitalism (Albany: SUNY Press, 2017; translated by Arianna Bove) and Debt and Guilt: A Political Philosophy (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018; translated by Stefania Porcelli). The essay critically engages with (1) Stimilli’s interpretation of the nexus between ascesis and capitalism; (2) her account of the ascetic dimensions of contemporary economies of debt; (3) her reflections on the subversive potential of ascesis in the context of contemporary regimes of neoliberal governance.

book discussion: john lysaker, after emerson

18. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
Megan Craig

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19. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 2
John Lysaker

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