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For What Tomorrow: A Dialogue (Cultural Memory in the Present) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2004/6/8
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"For what tomorrow will be, no one knows," writes Victor Hugo.
This dialogue, proposed to Jacques Derrida by the historian Elisabeth Roudinesco, brings together two longtime friends who share a common history and an intellectual heritage. While their perspectives are often different, they have many common reference points: psychoanalysis, above all, but also the authors and works that have come to be known outside France as "post-structuralist."
Beginning with a revealing glance back at the French intellectual scene over the past forty years, Derrida and Roudinesco go on to address a number of major social and political issues. Their extraordinarily wide-ranging discussion covers topics such as immigration, hospitality, gender equality, and "political correctness"; the disordering of the traditional family, same-sex unions, and reproductive technologies; the freedom of the "subject" over and against "scientism"; violence against animals; the haunting specter of communism and revolution; the present and future of anti-Semitism (as well as that which marked Derrida's own history) and the hazardous politics of criticizing the state of Israel; the principled abolition of the death penalty; and, to conclude, a chapter "in praise of psychoanalysis."
These exchanges not only help to situate Derrida's thought within the milieu out of which it grew, they also show more clearly than ever how this thought, impelled by a deep concern for justice, can be brought to bear on the social and political issues of our day. What emerges here above all, far from an abstract, apolitical discourse, is a call to take responsibility--for the inheritance of a past, for the singularities of the present, and for the unforeseeable tasks of the future.
"Jacques Derrida, notorious for producing intensely difficult works on aspects of the history of philosophy, here shows himself in another light dealing concretely and practically with some of the pressing social and political issues of our day." --Philosophy in Review/Comptes Rendus philosophiques
-Jacques Derrida, notorious for producing intensely difficult works on aspects of the history of philosophy, here shows himself in another light dealing concretely and practically with some of the pressing social and political issues of our day.- --Philosophy in Review/Comptes Rendus philosophiques
I have read over a dozen works by Derrida, about the same number of journal articles and was even fortunate enough to attend his lectures in Paris. Despite this, I find his work still demands the highest level of concentration and diligence, much like the writers and thinkers he reads in turn including Heidegger, Celan, Levinas and Marx.
His work can appear confusing, paradoxical, esoteric and strange. That's why this book is so highly recommended for the beginner. Here, Derrida is required to address questions and issues off the cuff in a discursive, conversational style. These are based upon transcribed conversations with the highly respected French psychoanlyst Elizabeth Roudinesco. Although Derrida's tools of esotericism are still at work, the awesome power of his intelligence and the touchstones of his ideas shines through clearly.
Roudinesco is no slouch here either and what I enjoyed so much here is how she manages to stretch Derrida, leading him into cunning dead-ends (mutually agreed ones of course) and even identifying (to my mind at least) several weaknesses in Derrida's strategies, especially in the area of political engagement and intervention.
And what topics they picked to discuss. They cover issues such as anti-semitism, the "death" and mourning of marxism in Europe, reproductive technology and same-sex couples, animal "rights", along the way cautioning against the politics and abuse of "political correctness" and politics itself.
The ideas portrayed are revolutionary in the best sense of the word, thoughtful and thought-provoking. Notes are provided for each dialogue, pointing the reader to background information to the references made by both, including page references to Derrida's and Roudinesco's work that provide an expanded discussion of the topic.
Each page excited me with the possibilities opened up in thinking. For this alone, the sheer pleasure of reading two great thinkers at work, it receives my highest recommendation.