Thursday, May 09, 2019
In LARB Gregory Jones-Katz reviews Theory and Practice, David Willis's translation of Derrida's 1976–’77 seminar at the École Normale Supérieure.
During his seminar’s last three sessions, Derrida further explored ways in which the theory/practice ethnocentric dualism functioned in Heidegger’s texts. For example, in “The Question Concerning Technology” (1954), Heidegger aimed to uncover, as Derrida summarized, “the essential articulation or mediation” of the theory/practice metaphysical opposition, which, behind the technical determination established by Plato and Aristotle, was “the origin common to both terms.” For Derrida, however, it was now Heidegger, poised at the borders of theory or metaphysics, who “repeat[ed] more or less […] the very thing” that Heidegger himself had questioned. This was so for complicated reasons, one being Heidegger’s etymological method, which valorized precision and faithfulness to original ancient Greek words. Derrida pointed out that Heidegger’s approach was itself a kind of calculated technique, surpassing but at the same time duplicating the “Western” metaphysical dichotomy between theory and practice.
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