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Uitgever: Continuum Publishing Corporation. Samenvatting This is an examination of Derrida's work on myth and language, offering a postmodern, deconstructive theory of myth. Spitzer examines previously unexplored areas of the scholarship of Jacques Derrida and Mark C. Taylor in order to propose a contemporary, postmodern, deconstructive theory of myth with provocative implications.

Derrida, Myth and the Impossibility of Philosophy argues that the insights of deconstruction and complexity theory demand a re-examination of mythos narrative, story, myth in terms of its disseminative propensities and its disruptive interplay with logos language, structure, word. Such a re-examination calls into question the relation of mythos and logos as it has been traditionally understood from Plato to modern theorists such as Mircea Eliade, Bruce Lincoln, Claude Levi-Strauss, and Paul Ricoeur.

Spitzer goes beyond the limited conception of the relation of mythos and logos in order to provide a nuanced account of myth in relation to philosophy in contemporary theories of writing, philosophy, and religion, thereby setting the stage for future work with myth in a deconstructive mode. The Philosophy, Aesthetics and Cultural Theory series examines the encounter between contemporary Continental philosophy and aesthetic and cultural theory.

Each book in the series explores an exciting new direction in philosophical aesthetics or cultural theory, identifying the most important and pressing issues in Continental philosophy today. Toon meer Toon minder.


Recensie s Anais Spitzer's Derrida, Myth and the Impossibility of Philosophy is a compelling study of the intimate, complex, and often unexpected aspects of the relationship between philosophy and myth. Philosophy considered as the pursuit of logos is shown to begin with mythos and to be embroiled with it throughout its history, down to the present moment. Despite its effort to hold myth apart and to repress its presence from conceptual frameworks, myth seen as disseminative mythos returns from within, haunting and disrupting the putative purity of philosophical discourse - converting it into what Spitzer archly calls dis-course, a run-around rather than a straight run to logological truth.

Transgression is neither violence in a divided world in an ethical world nor a victory over limits in a dialectical or revolutionary world ; and, exactly for this reason, its role is to measure the excessive distance that it opens at the heart of the limit and to trace the flashing line that causes the limit to arise. Transgression contains nothing negative, but affirms limited being affirms the limitlessness into which it leaps as it opens this zone to existence for the first time. But, correspondingly, this affirmation contains nothing positive: no content can bind it, since, by definition, no limit can possibly restrict it.

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In such an economy, transgression would transform the other side into a glittering expanse through Hegelian negation, exalting it as achievable, knowable and thinkable, and therefore within and not ultimately beyond the limits of logos. However, transgression is not violence, either the act of opposing itself to one thing, and remaining divided from it as in a binary framework.

Derrida, Myth, And the Impossibility of Philosophy | Deconstruction | Jacques Derrida

Nor is it a victory over limits a dialectical relation , which would negate and put an end to the limit, thereby effectively annulling the transgressiveness of the transgression. When understood in terms of Derridas remains and Foucaults non-dialectical breach, transgression opens the limit and by extension logos to the excessive remains, to the scraps and unthought cast-offs of philosophy.

By revealing the excluded, disruptive otherness within, transgression affirms in a manner that is neither positive nor negative the limitlessness that forever exceeds philosophy as logos. However, as Foucault carefully avers, this affirmation contains nothing positive nor negative. Foucaults affirmation slips between these two modes, escaping the limits of each. That slippage is the means by which it transgresses the limitations of logos without affirming it.

Transgressions affirmation is not a coming-to-presence or a conceptualizing of the exorbitant. If it were, then it would not be excessive, since it could ultimately be grasped and conceived purely within the limits of language, thought logos and philosophy proper. Hence, our affirmation of mythos and its transgression of logos is non-affirmative, that is, neither positive nor negative.

Traditional affirmation necessarily limits itself by inscribing that which it affirms, 5. As Foucault illustrates, transgression is not bound by the limits of the thinkable and knowable, and as a result, it cannot be affirmed in any traditional manner. Similarly, Derrida recognizes the remains of philosophical systems as transgressive and excessive.

Viewed through Foucaults elaboration, these remains transgress the limits of philosophy as logos in a way that is not logofiable, exposing philosophys very limitations. Since philosophy cannot account for the remains, it attempts to avoid, repress or domesticate them. Nevertheless, despite philosophys efforts to exclude them, the remains remain.

Derrida, Myth, And the Impossibility of Philosophy

In a non-teleological way, they give rise to the system itself in their inseparable relation to it. Philosophys end in absolute knowledge is an opening that confounds the possibility of closure. The inherent tears in logos point to the foundational nature of this unthought other, mythos. Rather, non-knowledge that which cannot be grasped by logos is endemic to knowledge logos , as Georges Bataille has expressed.

The unknowable is unknowable not on account of the insufficiency of reason, but by its nature. Hence, reason is transgressed from within by that which cannot be reasoned. Since illogical, indecidable mythos cannot be incorporated into and conceived of in terms of presence by philosophy, it disfigures and disrupts all logocentric operations. Not present, though not merely absent, the other remains inside as an exteriority interrupting all immediacy and dislocating every identity T, As just such an other, mythos operates in a manner similar to Maurice Blanchots nonabsent absence.

Blanchots phrase is used to describe, among other things, the way in which writing is non-writing.

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Nonwriting is not productive and fails to achieve a specific effect. For Blanchot, every book, which supposes itself to be a singular entity delivering an intended message from the author, also contains, to use a term of Derridas, an aneconomic aspect that escapes authorial intent 6.

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The uselessness of non- writing is specifically its usefulness, but this usefulness is useless, because it does not work toward a philosophical telos. This kind of writing that escapes logos is the non-absent absence from out of which the Book, having absented itself from this absence. EI, Blanchot concludes that this writing is therefore pure exteriority, strange to every relation of presence EI, The illegible exteriority of this nonwriting, although absent from the book, nonetheless stands in a relationship of alterity with it EI, Neither present to intelligibility or readability, nor absent in that which is readable and intelligible, it is a non-absent absence.

In a similar way, mythos is an exteriority that is foreign to logos apprehendable logic, while at the same time basic to logos. Logos limits or what Bataille refers to as insufficiency reveal the extent to which logos always already presupposes mythos, but not in a mere dialectical or binary relation. As we will see, logos is constituted and simultaneously discomposed by mythos. Mythos gives rise to logos, and in turn, logos makes it possible for mythos to emerge into thought and speech. Mythos and logos are interwoven in a relationship that is neither merely binary nor completely dialectical.

Derrida, Myth, And the Impossibility of Philosophy

Western philosophic discourse has a long history of dichotomizing mythos and logos, as if their relation were reducible simply to a binary or dialectical one. The age-old distinction between mythos and logos continues unquestioned. This habitual blindness to mythos is significant, since, as the prior discussion illustrates, that which has been neglected nonetheless remains to destabilize philosophys foundation. Conventional thinking has proceeded along the lines traced out by a customary reading of Plato and a circumscribed, unambiguous vision of philosophy.

Philosophy and the subsequent welcoming of the dawn of reason were born of this evasion. Insisting that philosophy had been freed from mythos and its ambiguity allowed for the inauguration of a logos that is unconditioned by and absolved of the inconsistencies of mythos. Classicist Luc Brisson points out that the conflict between myth and philosophy reaches its apex with Plato. In one sense, according to Brisson, myth is unfalsifiable discourse, since its referent is situated at a level of reality inaccessible both to the intellect and to the senses.

Just as the remains of the philosophic system are not presences, and therefore elude conceptualization, mythos referent is equally absent, rendering mythos just as ungraspable by both the senses and the intellect. With neither a sensible nor intelligible ground, mythos stands in stark contrast to the purportedly intelligible foundation of logos.

Importantly, the difference between falsifiable and unfalsifiable is unavoidably and disturbingly ambiguous.

If myth is unfalsifiable, it cannot be either proven or disproven. It is neither true nor false. Logos contains no such ambiguity: it establishes itself as truth. Its status can be unmistakably ascertained. It does not slip and slide between opposing categories; its identity is definitive. When understood in this way, it becomes obvious that mythos is irreducibly indecidable, since it vacillates between truth and falsehood. As neither true nor false, mythos cannot be transformed into a tool of logical, argumentative discourse to which Plato opposes it with a rational internal order that presides over its organization and development.

For philosophy, this is problematic because mythos can wrongly be used to persuade, not through the powers of reason, but by appealing to the lesser faculties of the emotions and senses.