Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? One of the world's most famous philosophers, Jacques Derrida, explores difficult questions in this important and engaging book. Is it still possible to uphold international hospitality and justice in the face of increasing nationalism and civil strife in so many countries? Drawing on examples of treatment of minority groups in Europe, he skilfully and accessibly probes the thinking that underlies much of the practice, and rhetoric, that informs cosmopolitanism.
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Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? One of the world's most famous philosophers, Jacques Derrida, explores difficult questions in this important and engaging book. Is it still possible to uphold international hospitality and justice in the face of increasing nationalism and civil strife in so many countries?
Drawing on examples of treatment of minority groups in Europe, he skilfully and accessibly probes the thinking that underlies much of the practice, and rhetoric, that informs cosmopolitanism.
What have duties and rights to do with hospitality? Should hospitality be grounded on a private or public ethic, or even a religious one? This fascinating book will be illuminating reading for all. Read more Read less. Review "powerful and provocative These essays masterfully articulate the impossibilities of forgiveness and hospitality, but their real achievement lies in understanding this impossibility as inseparable from political and pragmatic exigencies.
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Verified Purchase. As Derrida points out, the two virtues of hospitality and forgiveness belong to the Abrahamic tradition common to Jews, Christians and Moslems. They were defined and codified at a time when nation-states didn't exist, and point toward forms of solidarity that are both archaic and highly modern, in the sense that they help us expand our legal and political horizon.
Granting hospitality or giving forgiveness are what linguists call speech acts, when enunciation creates its own performance and engages the speaker through the strength of the given word.
One would need to establish fine-grained distinctions between the related notions of hospitality, asylum, refuge, sanctuary, safe haven, tolerance, openness, or within the even richer field of words connected to forgiveness: pardon, clemency, grace, acquittal, amnesty, reconciliation, excuse, exemption, prescription, repentance, apology, self-accusation, confession, etc.
These are not only linguistic distinctions: differences in legal status and socio-economic conditions between asylum-seekers, refugees, immigrants, foreigners, deported, heimatlosen, stateless or displaced persons have very real consequences. Derrida identifies a contradiction or a double imperative contained in these two notions, a tension that leads to unanswerable questions.
Forgiveness presupposes a call for pardon, but usually the worst offenders don't ask for forgiveness and manifest no repentance: can one forgive the guilty as guilty?
And if true forgiveness consists in forgiving the unforgivable, what does forgiveness forgive if the unforgivable is forgiven? Likewise, the concept of hospitality points toward a right of refuge that should be granted unconditionally to all foreigners; but all political organizations, be they the modern nation-states or the cities of refuge of the ancient Jews, impose limitations on the rights of residence. Hospitality and forgiveness therefore exhibit a tension between the conditional and the unconditional, the calculus of politics and the imperative of ethics.
One should not try to solve this contradiction or reconcile those two poles: inflections in politics and international law, such as the notion of crime against humanity or the French law that makes such crimes imprescriptible, usually stem from this tension between the two orders of injunctions. Another point common to these two notions is that they belong to a 'politics of friendship', they create a personal bind between individuals or communities that can sometimes contradict the rules of citizenship and sovereignty imposed by the nation-state.
Derrida's first lecture before the International Parliament of Writers occurred at a time when the tightening of laws against foreigners without rights of residence, the so-called 'sans papiers', generated mass protests in Paris. In a bold move, Derrida reconnects with the philosophical tradition that treats the city as the matrix of all political organizations and mulls over the ancient cities of refuge mentioned in the Laws of Moses. As he acknowledges, "if we look to the city, it is because we have given up hope that the state might create a new image to the city.
The second lecture, On Forgiveness, also underscores the tension between the individual and the state. Despite the political performance of the "theater of forgiveness" on which "the grand scene of repentance" is played over and again, Derrida insists that a public institution has neither the right nor the power to forgive.
Pure forgiveness must engage two singularities, the victim and the perpetrator, without the intervention of a third party. It is therefore distinct from the "therapy of reconciliation" that nevertheless needs to be played so that wounds may be healed by the work of mourning. To conclude, let me quote from the excellent preface that puts the two lectures in their intellectual context: "On Forgiveness and On Cosmopolitanism are proof, if proof were needed, that deconstruction is not some obscure textual operation initiated in a mandarin prose style, but is a concrete intervention in contexts that is governed by the undeconstructable concern for justice.
Derrida was fascinated by aporias: puzzlements, bewilderments, dilemmas. In the Anglo-American philosophical tradition, the urge is to unpack an aporia, to de-puzzle it, if you will. But so far as Derrida was concerned, the really interesting aporias are those that can neither be unpacked nor dismissed. He thought of them as "impossible possibles," in that the conditions for their being also entailed a negation or contradiction. Derrida speculated about several of these aporias.
In these two essays, he's primarily concerned with hospitality and forgiveness. Both hospitality and forgiveness are gifts, says Derrida, and in doing so he follows Judaic-Christian-Muslim normative traditions. But giving in the pure sense of the word means that the giving is anonymous--so anonymous that the recipient neither knows the benefactor nor even realizes that a gift has been given.
Unconditional hospitality and forgiving, then, are possibilities whose very possibility seems to make them impossible: how, after all, can hospitality or forgiveness be said to be given if the recipient isn't aware of receiving?
And yet this ideal, the impossible possible, ought to be kept as a standard. Added to the paradoxical nature of giving is Derrida's claim that the only forgiving worthy of giving is for the unforgiveable. Otherwise, forgiving is always conditional--that is, we forgive on condition that the offense is forgiveable. Derrida's responding most directly to what he thinks is the philosopher Jankelevitch's claim that Nazi war criminals are unforgiveable.
Actually, though, I think he misreads Jankelevitch. But when viewed from a pure perspective, they are forgiveable--precisely because they're unforgiveable. So Derrida, whether knowingly or not, is really knocking off Jankielevitch's thesis. Still, an excellent and accessible read which serves as a nice complement to the typical way in which analytic philosophers examine forgiveness.
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On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness
Sign in Create an account. Syntax Advanced Search. About us. Editorial team. Jacques Derrida.
His works of philosophy and linguistics form the basis of the school of criticism known as deconstruction. This theory states that language is an inadequate method to give an unambiguous definition of a work, as the meaning of text can differ depending on reader, time, and context. He died of pancreatic cancer on October 9, at the age of On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness. Jacques Derrida. This work is a discussion of one of the major issues in contemporary thinking by two of the world's leading thinkers.
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