‘L’autre’ has long been a key word in Jacques Derrida’s vocabulary. Just what does he mean by ‘the other’? My goal is ‘plainly to propound’ (Stevens 1954, 389)1 what Derrida means by l’autre, for example in the sentence I have quoted as an epigraph. Derrida’s reflections on the other take their place in the context of a melange of contradictory assumptions about otherness in current critical thought. As opposed to Lacan, for example, for whom, in spite of the fact that the unconscious is the discourse of the other, the letter always reaches its destination, for Derrida, as he says, the letter never gets to its destination, even though, like a post card, it is exposed where all can read it, including even the one to whom it is apparently addressed. The letter, for Derrida, is condemned to wander interminably in destinerrance, not so much in its plurisignificance as in its aporetic indeterminacy of meaning and addressee. For Derrida. as he says, ‘Tout autre est tout autre’, one meaning of which is, ‘Every other is completely other’ (pf 1994d, 317; Ap 1993a, 22).2 This means, among other things, that the lines of direct communication are down between me and the other.
KeywordsFrench Language Absolute Knowledge Post Card Transcendental Experience Contradictory Assumption
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