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On imperialist self-confidence and other features of philosophy

journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-09, 14:34 authored by Tanja StaehlerTanja Staehler, Ferit Güven
In his essay “The Crisis in the Teaching of Philosophy” Derrida writes “Philosophy would repeat itself and would reproduce its own tradition as the teaching of its own crisis and as the paideia of self-critique in general. This paideia goes hand in hand, and there is nothing fortuitous about this, with what I will call without taking it lightly, an imperialist self-confidence of philosophy.” In a properly Derridean fashion these lines are haunting for me. What is “imperialist” about philosophy; the self-confidence? Is the confidence imperialist or is it the entire content of the philosophical tradition? Is there something colonial about not only dominating other disciplines and assigning them their regional ontologies, but also about the very discourse of philosophy itself? Of course, this very question presupposes there is such a thing as a “philosophical discourse” that has an identity which is itself a philosophical question. Is there such a thing as identity? If philosophy does not have this discursive identity, is it the crisis that is imperialist, crisis in the sense of constantly being separated from itself, always not having an identity or “never having an identity”? Perhaps in a different yet admittedly still problematic way, does philosophy dominate, colonize, thinking itself, both culturally and conceptually. Derrida continues his essay by forging an alliance between decolonization and deconstruction. It is a curious alliance because it both endorses and rejects philosophy (in a properly philosophical fashion): “If, like philosophy and the deconstruction of the philosophical, decolonization is interminable, it is because it cannot be effective either as simple mode of reappropriation or as a simple mode of opposition or overturning.” (Derrida 2002, 103)


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Journal Phänomenologie




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