Derrida and the Inheritance of Democracy // Reviews // Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // University of Notre Dame

Matthias Fritsch reviews Samir Haddad’s Derrida and the Inheritance of Democracy. He writes:

In a well-researched, knowledgeable, and nuanced book, Haddad’s overall argument is that Derrida’s ‘democracy to-come’, as well as his moral and political philosophy in general, should not be seen primarily as turned toward the future, despite the ‘to come’ in the title. Against what he perceives as the “utopianism” in Derrida scholarship, the “dominant tendency” to privilege the future, democracy to-come should be seen as involving the “injunction to inherit from the past in a very particular way” (3).

I thought this was the real strength of the book–to argue against some rather tepid repetitions of the “to come” that one finds in writings on Derrida, as if it’s the wholly new and would be wholly good. I also think the sections of the book on normativity is compelling. At issue is that Martin Hägglund argues that deconstruction cannot give you any particular norms, while Len Lawlor has used Derrida’s writings to argue against certain treatment of animals, for example. Haddad tries to split the difference by showing that while Derrida can’t lead you to this or that ethics, deconstruction is what opens up the choice where norms can be instaniated.

The first chapter alone is worth the book. There he works out, carefully, the logic of the aporia in Derrida. Here he confronts a different problem: how to describe the aporetic relation, say, between the unconditional demand for justice and any particular, conditioned instance of it, without formalizing it into an ahistorical logic, and this he does well by noting that this or that aporia come not from any transcendental position, but from the tradition, that is, our historical situatedness itself.

via Derrida and the Inheritance of Democracy // Reviews // Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // University of Notre Dame.