Community of singularities: the possibility of being-with in the work of Heidegger, Lévinas and Derrida

Popescu, Maria Alexandra (2014) Community of singularities: the possibility of being-with in the work of Heidegger, Lévinas and Derrida. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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The aim of this study is to attempt a re-conceptualisation of ethics and politics away from the
well-rehearsed structure of singularity versus community, particularity or individuality versus universality, as well as from the inadequate dyadic positioning of these sets of terms. Dominant scholarship on Lévinas’s and Derrida’s work has generally been divided into those who see Derrida’s work as continuing the Lévinasian legacy, and thus having little to offer to the political, and those who would like to divorce the trajectory of deconstruction from the Lévinasian heritage, and thus reveal it as being inherently political. The above split in opinion is largely based on a divergence in the interpretation of Lévinas’s own writings as essentially
about ethics, and therefore as either having little to offer to our thinking of the political, or as undergoing something like a ‘split’, with the focus coming to rest more clearly on politics through the figure of the third, in later writings. My contribution to this impasse is to foreground a recent, though much overlooked notion
within Jacques Derrida’s work as an alternative to thinking being-with: that of community of singularities. I also suggest the notions of alteronomy and fiendship as alternatives to thinking being-with, which take into account the way in which the other-within-the-self restructures the concepts of freedom and autonomy and takes them beyond a humanist context. I will be arguing
from two overarching points: a) that Lévinas’s own work can convincingly be interpreted as not only concerned with the political from his earliest writings, but as setting up the political as the interruptive force within the ethical, thus providing a shift in perspective for what is essentially a mutually-interruptive relation between ethics and politics, and b) that Derrida’s own writing need not be ‘divorced’ from Lévinas’s trajectory of thought, in order to be considered as having something to offer to our re-thinking of the relation between ethics and politics.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General) > B2430.D48 Derrida, Jacques
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General) > B2430.L48 Lévinas, Emmanuel
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General) > B3279.H45 Heidegger, Martin, 1889-1976
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2014 10:19
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:37

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