Volume 14, 2018
History of Philosophy
With Heidegger against Heidegger
Derrida Thinking Academic Responsibility
The paper considers the complicated philosophical filiation of Jacques Derrida and Martin Heidegger in light of the question of academic responsibility. Drawing on Immanuel Kant’s vision of University as the institution grounded on the principle of reason, Heidegger defines the task of thinking (Denken) as questioning this principle that he takes to be governing the whole of modern science and technology. In a similar gesture Derrida also acknowledges the necessity of questioning and soliciting the principle of reason, simultaneously claiming such questioning to be essentially a public issue. By thus endorsing the Enlightenment ideal of public reason exercised without constraint, he eo ipso creates a rift between Heidegger’s understanding of Denken and his own idea of pensée. As many commentators including Jürgen Habermas and Hannah Arendt have pointed out, Heidegger has consistently denied publicity (Öffentlichkeit) any significance in relation to thinking. Thus in Being and Time he connects it with inauthentic existence, while in later writings as The Question Concerning Technology and The Principle of Reason he wholly subordinates it to modern technology. I take Derrida’s ambiguous relation to Heidegger’s Denken – inheritance and betrayal – to be a case of what Habermas famously referred to as “thinking with Heidegger against Heidegger”.