Marko Zlomislic


Derrida and the Ethics of Community



   Postmodernism and deconstruction are usually associated with a destruction of ethical values. Richard Rorty argues that while deconstruction is important on a private level it is "pretty much useless when it comes to politics" and is "largely irrelevant to public life and political questions"[1]. In a recent interview Ronald Dworkin expresses the view that postmodernism "is silly, indeed incoherent"[2]. I believe that Derrida's answer to his critics can be found in the afterward to Limited Inc., entitled, "Toward an Ethic of Discussion", where he writes:

"For of course there is a right track, a better way, and let it be said in passing how surprised I have the use or abuse of the following argument: Since the deconstructionist (which is to say, isn't it, the skeptic-relativist-nihilist!) is supposed not to believe in truth, can he demand of us that we read him with pertinence, precision, rigor?.... The answer is simple enough: this definition of the deconstructionist is supposes a bad...and feeble reading of numerous texts, first of all mine, which therefore must finally be read or reread. Then perhaps it will be understood that the value of truth (and all those values associated with it) is never contested or destroyed in my writings, but only reinscribed in more powerful, larger, more stratified contexts...from the point of view of ethics, "deconstruction" should never lead either to relativism or to any sort of determinism".[3]

Leslie Armour argues that the "application of metaphysics to social and political philosophy theory is a necessity and not simply an option".[4] Derrida, however seems to be arguing the opposite, namely, that the overcoming of a certain type of metaphysics is a necessary if there is to be genuine community.


The essay which follows, has three parts and will proceed in several interrelated transactions. In Section one, Derrida's critique of metaphysics as restricted economy will be examined. In Section two, the postmodern approach to the question of community will be explored in light of the debate between Gadamerian Hermeneutics and Derridean Deconstruction. Section three, will examine what type of community could emerge from the results of deconstruction. Contrary to those critics who have equated postmodernism with a destruction of ethical values[5], I will argue that Derrida has opened a space in which the question of ethics and community, can be pursued in a productive manner.


Deconstruction and the Critique of Metaphysics


I have used Bataille's distinction between restricted and general economy as a starting point from which to think about postmodern ethics and community. In The Accursed Share, Bataille argues that: "Changing from the perspectives of restrictive to those of general economy actually accomplishes a Copernican transformation: a reversal of thinking-and of ethics".[6] Construed in the light of its etymology, the word economy means "law of the house". Derrida argues that "economy is in a way an idea based on sameness, the oikos, that which remains within the 'home' of the same"[7]. An economy which is based on sameness is restricted. Derrida argues that a general economy would "stress another dimension of differance, which is, by contrast, that of absolute heterogeneity, and therefore of otherness, of radical otherness".[8]

Derrida defines metaphysics as a system that depends on a first principle upon which a hierarchy of meaning can be constructed. Metaphysical theories have created a chain of source words that have acted either as a foundation or model. Some of these source words include arche, form, soul, God, Truth. While these metaphysical source words have thrived, the question of ethics has been forgotten. As Bill Martin argues:


"Derrida wants to dispel the notion that it is imperative that we figure out "what came first", this identity-logic in the theoretical sense ( and as especially perfected by Kant and Hegel) or the practice of sequestering persons and social groups deemed "impure". This search for "first philosophy" regardless of whether it arrives at a materialist or an idealist starting point, is itself part of the problem".[9]

Metaphysics, in Derrida's view is logocentric because it based upon an Ultimate Authority or source. Logocentrism  posits a Transcendental Signified that gives all other signs their meaning. The metaphysical tradition, according to Derrida can be read as a history of binary oppositions. Derrida's deconstructive strategy is to disrupt binary oppositions such as truth/falsity, master/slave, presence/absence, etc. Deconstruction aims to undo the history of binary oppositions in order to show that rigid and restricted boundaries cannot be drawn. To cite Derrida:


"in a classical philosophical opposition we are not dealing with the peaceful co-existence of a vis a vis, but a violent hierarchy. One of the two terms governs the other, or has the upper hand. To deconstruct the opposition first of all is to overturn the hierarchy at a given moment".[10]


The first movement of deconstruction consists in overturning the hierarchy. Many critics of Derrida's work, have only focused on this first movement of deconstruction. Thus, Derrida's authorship has been read as a privileging of absence over presence, madness over reason, immorality over ethics. Of course, Derrida realizes that simply overturning a hierarchy is not an overcoming. Overturning the hierarchy still results in the continuation of metaphysics.

The second movement of deconstruction consist of "the irruptive emergence" of a new "concept", a concept that can no longer be, and never could be, included in the previous regime."[11] Derrida offers the word differance as an example of a non- metaphysical concept. Derrida argues:

Not only is there no kingdom of differance, but differance instigates the subversion of every kingdom, which makes it obviously threatening and infallibly dreaded by everything within us that desires a kingdom, the past or future presence of a kingdom.[12]

A metaphysical ethic that has emerged from a restricted economy, has sought to justify itself from an Archimedean point. Throughout the history of philosophy, the Archimedean point has received various names, i.e. The Forms, The Good (Plato) Arete (Aristotle), the Categorical Imperative (Kant). These Archimedean theories have sketched a restricted metaphysical picture of what it means to be human, and ethical, while outlining what kind of existence is essentially good or virtuous for the human individual. The Archimedean ethic rests on a conception of the human individual as a rational agent who must act within the limits of reason alone. Anything outside of these restricted limits, is immediately labeled as amoral or unethical.

Restricted economies reduce everything to one fixed center, or to what Derrida calls a fixed point of presence. Derrida argues:

The function of this center was not only to orientate, balance and organize the structure but above all to make sure that the organizing principle of the structure would limit what we might call the play of the structure.[13]

The center provided stability and unity at the expense of arresting the proliferation of differences. Derrida argues that the history of philosophy may be read as the domination of stabilizing centers such as Truth, Being.. A restricted metaphysical economy prevents the proliferation of differences in order to insure itself against loss or instability.

Derrida makes it clear that the deconstruction of a restricted metaphysical economy does not lead to nihilism: 

"What survives deconstruction should have new forms. It couldn't be a new system for instance, because the idea of system is one of the targets of deconstruction... But the fact that this form, this structure, has been deconstructed doesn't mean that after deconstruction (if there is such a thing as 'after deconstruction:) we will have nothing or chaos. We are in the process of deconstruction and there are new things and things which fall apart...its not a new order but its a permanent process of disordering order".[14]


 The deconstruction of Metaphysics, is an ethical task which facilitates "the necessity for a change of terrain"[15]. By focusing on the debate between Gadamerian Hermeneutics and Derridean Deconstruction, we will be in a position to explore the landscape of this new terrain. 



 Postmodern Charity and The Undecidable:

Gadamer and Derrida


In the analytic and hermeneutic traditions, the concept of charity refers to the stance adopted by the interpreter or critic. Charity as a basis for interpretation would ask the question " How does a critic comprehend, interpret or welcome a text"? Within a postmodern framework, charity forces use to ask, "How do we welcome a friend or stranger into our economy.[16] Derrida would argue that the analytic and hermeneutic traditions operate according to a restricted economy; that is to say, they have called for a denial of Otherness. A restricted economy in Derrida's words, "intends to know and to master its margins".[17] A restricted economy " watches over its margins as virgin, homogeneous, and negative space, leaving its outside, outside".[18]


For proponents of the analytic and hermeneutic traditions, charity, in principle, represents the quest for legitimacy and validity. But the word charity, betrays the hermeneutic / analytic quest. Charity is a cognate of the Latin caritas, suggesting dearness, costliness, high price(the cost of a gift), and carus dear, valued, esteemed, beloved. The concept of charity is also affiliated with the Sanskrit word kama(love), the Slavic kamata, suggesting a place of exchange, or being indebted to the Other. Ironically, charity construed in the light of its etymology, resonates with significations of illegitimacy instead of the legitimacy and security of a fused hermeneutic horizon. Charity reflects both a giving and taking; an open-heartedness and cold-heartedness. In Derridean terminology, the word charity, is an undecidable.[19] In other words, it cannot be comprehended solely on the basis of its oppositions.

A postmodern charity, does not give the Other gifts from a restricted reserve, from which there will be " some return, redemption or gain".[20] A postmodern charity is not calculated in advance, like a modern business plan or forecast. A postmodern charity forsakes profit and is "owed to the Other before any contract".[21]The Derridean understanding of charity implements a shift to undecidability. It accepts the imperative of decision-making, but immediately submits every decision to the risk of deborderment.

Derrida, in developing a postmodern approach to charity, asserts a minimum of three distinct meanings for undecidablity. In Dissemination, Derrida notes that initially he used the term undecidability as "that which resist binarity or even triplicity. For the later Derrida, this determination of undecidability was "too anti-dialectical, hence too dialectical". Undecidability is used, in his subsequent work to mark " within the order of the calculable, the limits of decidability, of calculability or of formalizable completeness". Derrida also uses undecidablity in a sense that remains heterogeneous both to the dialectic and to the calculable; a sense that expresses a more lively interplay of the rival perspectives of Heraclitus' flux and Parmenides' unity. This sense of undecidability is crucial for decision making:

It opens the field of decision or of decideability. It calls for decision in the order of ethical-political responsibility. It is even its necessary condition... There can be no more or political responsibility without this trial and this passage way of the undecidable.[22]


Hermeneutic strategies for containing undecidability, in Derrida's view, shelter us from options that might otherwise appear. Hermeneuts, marked by an excessive fear of incomprehensibility, choose to take a protected passage through the undecidable. This guardedness invoked by hermeneutic questioning is not, in Derrida's view, a prerequisite for making choices. There is no requirement to guarantee truth. Decisions, at least by those with a higher tolerance for uncertainty, can be made in the face of a set of equally compelling alternatives. Crossing interpretative horizons, and introducing new perspectives, increase both the difficulty and freedom involved in decision making. In giving decision makers more options and no independent basis for ultimately selecting from these options, the Derridean decision calls for "an increase in responsibility".[23]

An ethics of community, recognizes a necessary level of calculability or programmability in generating options but places greater responsibility on the individual decision maker in choosing. To cite Derrida:

"In short, for a decision to be just and responsible it must... be both regulated and without regulation... Each case is other, each decision is different and requires an absolute unique interpretation, which no existing, coded rule can or ought to guarantee absolutely".[24]


A hermeneutic text can only be analyzed along side a limited set of alternatives. Positions which depart too far from the story that the tradition tells or positions which simply fail to cohere with the hermeneutic horizon are excluded from consideration. The hermeneutic and analytical thinker can always seek refugee in the posited unity and certainty of the tradition or system.

Derrida's notion of dissemination, in contrast, invokes a shifting or crossing of interpretative spaces or contexts ( as opposed to no contexts). In Derrida's words:

The undecidable is not merely the oscillation or tension between two decisions, it is the experience of that which, through heterogeneous, foreign to the order of the calculable and the rule, is still obliged- it is of this obligation that we must speak- to give itself up to the impossible decision, while taking accounts of laws and rules. A decision that didn't go through the ordeal of the undecidable would not be a free decision, it would only be the programmable application or unfolding of a calculable process.[25]

 The result of udecideability, is a shifting interpretative topology where political, philosophical or ethical positions can no longer be protected by the exclusionary policy of a restricted economy.

Gadamers' allegations that Derrida's work is marred by wrongful confusion or incomprehensibility is, from Derrida's perspective, a product of a lower tolerance for uncertainty and shifting boundaries. Derrida argues that the hermeneut, restricts the play of the understanding to the more familiar. Gadamerian hermeneutics is flexible enough to view its interpretative processes as a conversation in which we are played and under which " no one knows what will come out".[26] But its play is curtailed by its commitment to a constrained or internal horizon of interpretation. Hermeneutic philosophers acknowledge the value of a skeptical mind, but declare that the only worthwhile skepticism is of the engaged, internal kind. The internal skeptic accepts the demands of coherency which requires that we all work with the same pre-interpretative data, the same language or the same tradition( i.e. the same community of meaning). We cannot, in Gadamer's view disagree on the basic order or horizon in which all interpretation is conducted and from which all understanding is produced. To proclaim that we can exceed the limits of the interpretative horizon is to step out of our tradition, (i.e., into nihilism).

Derrida concurs with Gadamer that "no completeness is possible for undecideability".[27] The necessity and value of operating within a situation or context is never denied. In fact, Derrida accepts the proposition that hermeneutic decision making processes have value. Hermeneutic processes claim the importance of maintaining the openness of the question. Derrida purports, however, to mark out the limitations of the hermeneutic techniques. In the appropriate contexts, these philosophical techniques continue to play a role in a variety of decision-making structures. By claiming, however, to extend these processes to all levels of decision making, hermeneutics arrests the necessary recoiling[28] movement of the undecidable.

 For Gadamer, a hermeneutic "discipline of questioning and research... guarantees truth".[29] For the analytic thinker, the regulative principle of a restricted charity ensures understanding. Derrida however offers no reassurance. For the postmodern economist, understanding, like the currency of a vibrant political community, is produced by a variety of competing internal and external economic activities, rather than backed by a reductive internal gold standard. Within a postmodern economy, one is indebted to the institution of the Other. As the narrator of the Postcard tells us: "I am founding an entire institution on counterfeit money by demonstrating that there is no other kind. There is only one good institution, my love, it is us".[30]

Merely adhering to the insular limits, of the techniques of hermeneutic and analytic thinkers, arrests the undecidable. Each of these schools of thought, places greater emphasis upon obtaining the best fit with the tradition or the prevailing paradigm, rather than cultivating vital questioning. The deference to the demands of compatibility, violently excludes other world views and reduces the "liberty of the question".[31] The liberty of the question, involves an interplay between self and Other.[32] How we question and how we respond reflects the tolerance we show toward the Other. Our response towards any question can take the form of "yes"or "no". As Derrida points out, "One always has, one always must have, the right not to respond, and this liberty belongs to responsibility itself, that is, to the liberty that one believes must be associated with it. One must always be free not to respond to an appeal or to an invitation- and it is worth remembering this, to remind oneself of the essence of this liberty".[33]

 Derrida argues that choices and decisions must be made, but they cannot be defended by recourse to hermeneutic and analytic conceptions of truth and charity. The postmodern economist is prepared to work with rival interpretative frames, without the assistance of a comprehensive coordinate system. The instability of undecideability produced by the crossing of contexts is valuable. This destablizing approach, according to Derrida, " should never lead either to relativism or any sort of indeterminism".[34] As Derrida argues in Limited Inc.,

To be sure, in order for structures of undecidability to be possible (and hence structures of decision and of responsibilities as well) there must be a certain play, differance... Differance is not indeterminacy. It renders determinacy both possible and necessary.[35]

 Deconstruction deploys the classical exegetical methods in order to open a reading, rather than shield that same reading from further development.


Derrida contends that indecision is a product of rival semantic, ethical and political paradigms or determined poles which are "on occasion terribly necessary" and " always irreplaceably singular".[36] Far from being nihilistic, "undecideability is always a determinate oscillation between possibilities" which are "themselves highly determined in strictly defined situations ( for example... political, ethical, etc) They are pragmatically determined".[37]


The cultivation of the undecidable is not for everyone in a community to practice. Personal tolerance for uncertainty varies considerably within any political structure. For those with a limited tolerance for shifting boundaries, the protection afforded by secure objective rule structures is beneficial. Those who emerge as leaders in a community, that is, those who have a higher tolerance for uncertainty, must have the freedom and ability to resist the leveling forces of dominant conceptual schemes. These individuals, in Derrida's view, must be able to work the limits of divergent conceptual schemes, to integrate rival conceptual schemes with existing political structures, to regulate resulting non-coherencies, and in the process, to maintain a tension between the competing demands of comprehensibility and undecidability. There is no easy way of expressing this postmodern posture towards an ethics of community. It calls for a much more rigorous and multi-faceted charity. That there is no thematic unity to resolve rival interpretations, places greater responsibility on the decision-maker. In the next section, I want to examine what type of community could emerge from the results of our investigation.


Postmodern Justice and the Prayer of the Other


The injustice of a restricted economy is both passive and active. It is passive, insofar as it oppresses the Other with certain codes and imperatives. It is active to the extent that it uses force to enforce any violation of the code. In The Use of Pleasure, Foucault writes that with code orientated moralities: "the important thing is to focus on the instance of authority that enforce the code, that require it to be learned and observed, that penalize infractions."[38] An ethics that takes its position from the codes of metaphysics has placed its trust in the principle of reason. This blind trust is connected to the violence and repression that metaphysical authority exerts and exhibits. An ethics which is reduced to the observance of codes cannot respond responsibly to the call of the Other.


Justice within a restricted economy is reduced to the violence of the law which is imposed as a safeguard against the Other. As Derrida argues, "justice as law is not justice".[39] Justice is to be found in a general economy which is beyond mere calculation. As Derrida argues: "Law is not justice. Law is the element of calculation...but justice is incalculable, it requires us to calculate with the incalculable."[40] Within a restricted economy, justice "will have been buried and repressed.[41] The deconstruction of a restricted economy provides a "maximum intensification of a transformation in progress."[42]

In "Force of Law", Derrida maintains that deconstruction corresponds "to a double-movement".[43] In very Kierkegaardian language, Derrida describes how deconstruction "operates on the basis of an infinite idea of justice,"[44] which is beyond calculation. This deconstructive justice is "owed to the Other before any contract."[45] Deconstructive justice annuls the restricted phenomena of injustice that has oppressed, marginalized and excluded the Other.


A deconstructive justice exposes the violence inherent in all restricted economies. Within a restricted economy, a metaphysical blanket protected dominant forces, while systematically smothering and threatening Otherness. To borrow Lyotard's insights, a restricted economy has embraced a metaphysical meta-narrative and has formulated laws in order to suppress Otherness[46]. In short, a restricted economy employs a resistance to Otherness, whose final aim is the total elimination of Otherness.

Deconstructive justice consists of a double-movement. The first movement consists of "responsibility before the very concept of responsibility."[47] In this movement, deconstructive justice calls for an increase in responsibility. In Kierkegaardian terminology, this first movement suspends the merely ethical sphere. This first movement goes beyond all calculable systems of restricted and coded prescriptions. The second movement of deconstructive justice embraces "a sense of responsibility without limit."[48] This second movement is attuned to the call of the Other. Situated in between these two movements is an ever present anxiety. Derrida argues:

This moment of suspense, this period of epoche, without which, in fact, deconstruction is not possible is always full of anxiety...(But)...this anxiety ridden moment of suspense is also the interval or space in which transformations take place.[49]


Following Kierkegaard, Derrida argues that deconstructive justice addresses itself with responsibility to the single individual. Deconstructive justice "always addresses itself to singularity, to the singularity of the Other."[50] Deconstructive justice is an affirmation of the value of the Other.

Derrida's meditation on the call of the Other intersects with Heidegger's thinking concerning the call of Being and Levinas' reflections on the face of the Other.[51] Throughout his dialogue with Heidegger, Derrida asks, if Being gives or sends itself, what mechanisms or routing systems are in place, so that Dasein can hear the call? Derrida argues that there cannot be a direct line to Being. It would be impossible to calculate the trajectory of such a call. In describing the call of Being, Heidegger writes:

The call does not require us to search gropingly for him to whom it appeals... the call undoubtedly does not come from someone else who is with me in the world.[52]

Heidegger's emphasis on the call of Being short circuits the call of the Other, and thus closes off the possibility for ethics. In Of Grammatology, Derrida makes it clear that "there is no ethics without the presence of the Other."[53]


In Derrida's postmodern general economy, "one answers (responds) first to the Other: to the request, the prayer...the appeal."[54] The appeal comes from the Other, and is "assigned to us by the Other."[55] What is at stake here, is not responding to the Other because of the duty imposed by a metaphysical theory. We should respond to the Other, because we recognize our own vulnerability through the Other.

Through its restrictions and prescriptions, a metaphysical ethic, helped to perpetuate the exclusion of the Other. The Other to borrow Levinasian insights is the widow, the stranger and the orphan, the marginalized and the excluded.

The call of the Other is a prayer which is addressed to me. The prayer of the Other draws me out of my own selfish concerns . A prayer may also be called a petition. To pray is also to invite. The prayer of the Other is an invitation which calls one to make an expenditure without fear of loss.[56]


If there is to be a metaphysics within a postmodern community, then ethics must be the basis of metaphysics. In other words, we should not ask "what the final form of community is". The question to ask is "what institutional structures will allow people to both reinvent community and to continually postpone the question of the community's "final form".[57]

An ethics of community begins with what has been excluded. It moves beyond the barriers of a restricted economy in order to recover community from the crisis of its enclosure.

[1]Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p.83

[2]Ronald Dworkin, "Tyranny at the Two Edges of Life: A Liberal View",New Perspectives Quarterly, Winter 1994, p.17

[3]Jacques Derrida, Limited Inc., translated by Samuel Weber (Evanston:  Northwestern University Press, 1988),p.148-9.  Hereafter cited as Limited.  In "Passions: An Oblique Offering" in Derrida: a critical reader, edited by David Wood (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1992), pp.13-14. Derrida contends that  " Some minds believing themselves to have found in Deconstruction... as if there were only one, a modern form of immorality, of amorality or of irresponsibility(etc.: a discourse too well know, I do not need to continue), while others, more serious, in less of a hurry, better disposed towards so called Deconstruction today claim the opposite; they discern... increasingly intense attention, to those things which one could identity under the fine names of "ethics", "morality", "responsibility", "subject", etc". Whether or not we should accept Derrida's interpretation of his own work is an issue that needs to be explored. In other words, can Derrida's work be subjected to the same critique which he reserves for other writers ?

[4]Leslie Armour, "The Metaphysics of Community", unpublished manuscript.

[5]For example, see John H. Elllis, Against Deconstruction, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), Gillian Rose, Dialectics and Nihilism: poststructuralism and law, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984).

[6]Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share, Volume 1, translated by Robert Hurley, (New York:  Zone Books, 1988),p.25.

[7] Raoul Mortley, French Philosophers in Conversation, (London: Routledge, 1991), p.99 (my emphasis).Hereafter cited as Conversation.

[8]Conversation, p. 99.

[9]Bill Martin, Matrix and Line: Derrida and the possibilities of postmodern social theory (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992), p.175. Hereafter cited as Matrix.

[10] Jacques Derrida, Positions, translated by Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984),p.41. Hereafter cited as Positions.

[11]Positions, p. 42.

[12] Jacques Derrida. Margins, translated by Alan Bass ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982),p. 22. Hereafter cited as Margins.

[13]Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference, translated by Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), p.99. Hereafter cited as Writing.

[14]Postmodernism ICA Documents, edited by Lisa Appignanesi (London:  Free Association Books 1989), p. 223.

[15]Margins, p.135.

[16] The postmodern charity being articulated here shares an affinity with the concept of potlach. Leslie Armour points out that the Haida and Kwakiutl Indians in British Columbia "centered their concept of property around the concept of the potlach. If one wanted to hold a public office or take on a new name, one had to organize a potlach at which one gave away property.... property was thus something whose power centered on its being given away". "The Metaphysics of Community", unpublished manuscript. The concept of potlach embraces another logic, whereby one gains by losing. I would argue that economically the concept of potlach can be interpreted as the giving away of property, ethically, potlach exhibits generosity toward the other. For a detailed analysis see, Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share, (New York: Zone Books, 1988), pp. 63-77.

[17] Margins,p. XXIV.

[18]Margins, p. XXVII.

[19] Other undecidables would include, differance, which means both to differ and to defer; pharmakon, which means both poison and remedy, and supplement, which means both addition and substitute. For a detailed exposition see Jacques Derrida, "Differance", in Margins, "Plato's Pharmacy" in Dissemination and "Nature, Culture, Writing", in Of Grammatology.

[20]Jacques Derrida, Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles, translated by Barbara Harlow (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), p.111.

[21] Jacques Derrida, "Force of Law", Cardozo Law Review, Volume II, 1990, p. 965. Hereafter cited as Force.

[22]Force, p.961.

[23]Force, p.955.

[24]Force, p.961.

[25]Force, p.963.

[26] Hans Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, translated by G. Barden and J. Cumming (New York: Seabury, 1975), p.345. Hereafter cited as Truth.

[27]Truth, p.115.

[28]See, Charles E. Scott, The Question of Ethics, Nietzsche, Foucault, Heidegger, (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1990).


[30]Jacques Derrida, The Postcard, translated by Alan Bass ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), p.178

[31]Writing, p. 80.

[32]Leslie Armour asks "For how does one reach into the possibilities of individuality and come out with a particular life ? One chooses. But how? By seizing the opportunities which one conceptualizes. But that in turn is done through language, and language again requires a community to nurture and shape it... I speak and you respond." The Metaphysics of Community", unpublished manuscript. (my emphasis). In "Derrida and the Ethics of Dialogue" Philosophy and Social Criticism, 19:1, p.4, Richard Kearney develops a similar argument, he writes, " For an ethical subject to respond, an ethical other must first have addressed the subject in a language the subject can hear and (at least minimally) understand".

[33]Jacques Derrida, "Passions: An Oblique Offering" in Derrida: a critical reader, edited by David Wood,( Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1992), p. 15.

[34] Limited, p.148.

[35]Limited, p.149.

[36]Limited, p.148.

[37]Limited, p.149.

[38]Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure, translated by Robert Hurley (New York:  Vintage Books,1985),p.29.


[40]Force, p. 947.

[41]Force, p. 963.

[42]Force, p. 935.


[44]Force, p.965.


[46] See J. F. Lyotard, The Differend, translated by George Van Den Abbede, (Minneapolis: Univeristy of Minnesota Press, 1988) and The Postmodern Condition, translated by Geoff Bennington( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983).


[48]Force, p. 953.

[49]Force, pp.955,957.


[51]See, Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity, translated by Alphonso Lingis (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1983).

[52]Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York:  Harper and Row 1962), pp.318,319,320. See also Avital Ronnell, The Telephone Book (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press,1989).

[53]Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, translated by Gayatri C. Spivak (Baltimore:  John Hopkins Press,1976), pp. 140-141.

[54]Jacques Derrida "The Politics of Friendship" The Journal of Philosophy, Volume 85, Number 11,p.639.Hereafter cited as Friendship.

[55]Friendship, p.634.

[56] The invitation of the other which calls one to make an expenditure without fear of loss shares an affinity with the concept of potlach. Leslie Armour writes: "But to a Kwakiutl or a Haida, property was not just a collection of blankets, fish oil and coppers. It was essentially a social bond, and in giving it away one showed exactly how one was bound to the recipients. In showing that one could give it away, one validated one's social position by showing that one could care well for the community. The Haida could certainly see the bundles of blankets and the buckets of oil. But to him the community was as real as its members and to give was not to part with the goods but to bring the community to tangible life. The community was seen through its members". " The Metaphysics of Community", Notes for  March 14/1994, p. 16, my emphasis.

[57]Matrix, p.180.