Derrida Force Of Law Essay

Derrida Force Of Law Essay-14
In his keynote talk at the American Academy of Religion in 2002, Derrida proposed a notion of God that, in effect, utterly capsized the familiar world of monotheism by stripping it of all our usual understandings of divine authority.Suppose God were not the all powerful king of the universe (the image that even an atheist is prone to imagine upon hearing the name "God").Derrida's paper is now most readily available now in Acts of Religion, a collection of his writings published by Routledge.

In his keynote talk at the American Academy of Religion in 2002, Derrida proposed a notion of God that, in effect, utterly capsized the familiar world of monotheism by stripping it of all our usual understandings of divine authority.

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The implications were political, at least in some very abstract sense."Jackie" and "JD" -- at a conference called "Derrida/America: The Present State of America's Europe." The throng was down to a third of that size by Monday morning.Maybe everyone else went off to see "The Gates," Christo's installation of saffron banners running around Central Park.But the problem is not simply with the American public at large."There is something I've wanted to say in public for some time," announced Simon Critchley, a professor of philosophy at New School University. They hadn't read Derrida, and they knew they hadn't.And, he asks, might it be the case that Levantine traditions of hospitality (of welcoming the Other into one's home) transcend more modern conceptions of ethics?For someone constantly accused of relativism, Derrida often sounds in these late works like a man haunted by the absolute.For example, there is the aporia that Derrida calls "singularity." The law consists of general rules, and to be just, those rules must be equally binding on everyone.Yet while it is illegal to kill another person, it would be unjust to impose the same penalty on an assassin and someone defending herself from attack. Likewise, Derrida pointed to the aporia of "undecidability" -- the law guides the judge's decision, but the judge must decide which particular laws apply in a given case.Suppose, rather, that God were infinitely weak, utterly vulnerable. What would it mean that human beings are made in His image?Such moments in Derrida's work could be very moving. At the Cardozo conference, it sounded at times as if the jury were still out on "Force of Law." Some speakers indicated that the lecture had radically transformed the way they understood legal theory, while a couple of dissenters suggested that Derrida had at most made a very late contribution to the school known as critical legal studies -- or even served up "warmed over legal realism" with a rich French sauce.

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