Texts on Violence: Of the Impure (Contaminations, Equivocations, Trembling)

Oximora 17:1-25 (2020)
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This article interrogates a certain philosophical scene – one which constitutes itself through the position of what Jacques Derrida calls “the ethical instance of violence.” This scene supposes a certain “style” of writing or doing philosophy, and perhaps even a certain philosophical “genre” or “subgenre”: the philosophical discourse on violence. In the course of the essay, I analyze this quasi-juridical scene through readings of Aristotle, Walter Benjamin, Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, Slavoj Žižek, Werner Hamacher, Rodolphe Gasché, and Martin Hägglund among others. The scene, built on texts on texts on violence, demands a logic of purity; it is wary of contaminations and equivocations. And yet it thrives on them. In analyzing the implications of text, writing, and trace for the philosophical discourse on violence, I follow Derrida “just to see” what could make the scene tremble.

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Thomas Clément Mercier
University Adolfo Ibañez


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