Incommunication: Derrida in Translation



Peaceful coexistence? I don’t know just what that means. I don’t think peaceful coexistence exists. It is the decoy of an economy of power and war’ (Irigaray 1985, 130). Luce Irigaray’s point, although concerned here with troubled sexual relations, and with the hom(me)ological absorption of the other in the economy of the same, might serve as a starting point for our own discussion of troubled conceptual relations as regards sameness and difference, consensus and dissent. Do such troubles stem from a lack of communication? Is it a question of misunderstanding, a question of translation? While continental philosophy has settled into a fraught coexistence between different camps, typified by those of hermeneutics and deconstruction, we might also consider whether their lack of communication, their studied mutual indifference, has not been essential to disguising their latent conflict. Thus for example, when Hans-Georg Gadamer and Jacques Derrida met in Paris in 1981, the pressure to communicate seemed to find no outlet, despite all the good will in the world. Was this too a question of misunderstanding, or perhaps a question of translation between German and French thought? So, when the generals of hermeneutics and deconstruction met on the agonistic field in Paris, why was Gadamer so talkative, and Derrida so silent, why does Gadamer still, after all these years, seek dialogue, when Derrida never did correspond? Why then does Gadamer seek communication with the other, when this other’s lips remain sealed?


Peaceful Coexistence Continental Philosophy Proper Domain Local Relay Latent Conflict 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

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