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(2019) Violence and meaning, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Is violence inescapable?

Derrida, religion, and the irreducibility of violence

Jason Alvis

pp. 111-133

This chapter interprets Derrida's understanding of religion and violence in his 1998 "Faith and Knowledge" through his critique of "meaning" in his 1967 "Violence and Metaphysics." This is done in order to arrive at a deeper, yet often overlooked observation—that "meaning" (attempting to bring to light and expose a single point of origination) and 'signification" (as a process void of difference and bound to presence) themselves are in many cases the bases of the violence of metaphysics. As Derrida put it in 1967, "it is violence as the origin of meaning and of discourse in the reign of finitude" (Violence and Metaphysics, 129). The chapter concludes with a reflection on violence that seeks to avoid both of the extremes that claim violence to be either (A) senseless and irrational or (B) a determinable product of an undergirding cause-effect structure. The former often abandons hope to describe violence's intelligibility; the latter tends to operate with a blind optimism that violence is reasonable and therefore can be eradicated once we determine its meaning.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-27173-2_6

Full citation:

Alvis, J. (2019)., Is violence inescapable?: Derrida, religion, and the irreducibility of violence, in L. Lauwaert, L. K. Smith & C. Sternad (eds.), Violence and meaning, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 111-133.

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