Preposterous Universe

Monday, September 13, 2004
Habermas, Derrida, and speech

Found at Arts and Letters Daily, an excerpt from an interview with Jürgen Habermas talking about his relationship with Jacques Derrida:
When he received the Adorno Prize, Derrida, for his part, gave a highly sensible speech in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt, in which the spiritual affinity of these two minds was impressively manifested. This kind of thing leaves one not unmoved. Actually, over and beyond all the politics, what connects me to Derrida is the philosophical reference to an author like Kant. Admittedly -- and though we are roughly the same age, our life histories have been very different -- what separates us is the later Heidegger. Derrida's thinking has appropriated the Jewish-inspired perceptions of a Levinas. In Heidegger, I confront a philosopher who failed as a citizen -- in 1933 and especially after 1945. But even as a philosopher, he is suspect to me because, in the 1930s, he received Nietzsche precisely as a neo-pagan, as it was then the fashion to do. Unlike Derrida, whose reading of "Andenken" accords with the spirit of monotheistic tradition, I take Heidegger's botch-job "Seinsdenken" as a leveling of that epochal threshold in the history of consciousness that Jaspers had called the axial age. According to my understanding, Heidegger committed treason against that caesura which is marked, in various ways, by the prophetic-awakening Word from Mount Sinai, and by the Enlightenment of a Socrates.
I have no comment to add to this, except that I would love to be able to talk like that extemporaneously.

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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