Debates in Continental Philosophy: Conversations with Contemporary Thinkers

Debates in Continental Philosophy: Conversations with Contemporary Thinkers

John D. Caputo series editor
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 388
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Debates in Continental Philosophy: Conversations with Contemporary Thinkers
    Book Description:

    This important book brings together in one volume a collection of illuminating encounters with some of the most important philosophers of our age-by one of its most incisive and innovative critics.For more than twenty years, Richard Kearney has been in conversation with leading philosophers, literary theorists, anthropologists, and religious scholars. His gift is eliciting memorably clear statements about their work from thinkers whose writings can often be challenging in their complexity. Here, he brings together twenty-one originally published extraordinary conversations-his 1984 collection Dialogues: The Phenomenological Heritage, his 1992 Visions of Europe: Conversations on the Legacy and Future of Europe, and his 1995 States of Mind: Dialogues with Contemporary Thinkers. Featured interviewees include Stanislas Breton, Umberto Eco, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Herbert Marcus, George Steiner, Julia Kristeva, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jean-Fran?ois Lyotard. To this classic core, he adds recent interviews, previously unpublished, with Paul Ricoeur, Jean-Luc Marion, Jacques Derrida, and George DumZzil, as well as six colloquies about his own work.Wide-ranging and accessible, these interviews provide a fascinating guide to the ideas, concerns, and personalities of thinkers who have shaped modern intellec-tual life. This book will be an essential point of entry for students, teachers, scholars, and anyone seeking to understand contemporary culture.ContentsPrefacePart One: Recent DebatesJacques Derrida: Terror, Religion, and the New PoliticsJean-Luc Marion: The Hermeneutics of RevelationPaul Ricour: (a) On Life Stories (b) On The Crisis of Authority (c) The Power of the Possible (d) Imagination, Testimony, and TrustGeorges Dumzil: Myth, Ideology, SovereigntyPart Two: From Dialogues: The Phenomenological Heritage, 1984Emmanuel Levinas: Ethics of the InfiniteHerbert Marcuse: The Philosophy of Art and PoliticsPaul Ricour: (a) The Creativity of Language (b) Myth as the Bearer of Possible WorldsStanislas Breton: Being, God, and the Poetics of RelationJacques Derrida: Deconstruction and the OtherPart Three: From States of Mind, 1995Julia Kristeva: Strangers to Ourselves: The Hope of the SingularHans Georg Gadamer: Text MattersJean-Franois Lyotard: What Is Just?George Steiner: Culture-The Price You PayPaul Ricour: Universality and the Power of DifferenceUmberto Eco: Chaosmos: The Return to the Middle AgesPart Four: Colloquies with Richard KearneyVillanova Colloquy: Against OmnipotenceAthens Colloquy: Between Selves and OthersHalifax Colloquy: Between Being and God Stony Brook Colloquy: Confronting ImaginationBoston Colloquy: Theorizing the GiftDublin Colloquy: Thinking Is DangerousAppendix: Philosophy as Dialogue

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4767-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Richard Kearney
  4. Part One: Recent Debates
    • Terror, Religion, and the New Politics
      (pp. 3-14)
      Jacques Derrida and RK

      Rk: In the interview with Dominique Janicaud (Heidegger en France[Heidegger in France]), you talk about deconstruction as being a preference for discontinuity over continuity, fordifféranceover reconciliation, and so on. These two traits are always at work in your thought. I was wondering, at the practical level, what this preference might mean in the current political situation. In the wake of September 11, there is much talk of the West versus Islam. In Northern Ireland, there was much negotiation over decommissioning of arms. And there are all these tensions between Pakistan and India and, of course, between Palestine...

    • The Hermeneutics of Revelation
      (pp. 15-32)
      Jean-Luc Marion and RK

      Rk: They are many similarities between your work, Jean-Luc, and mine: Both of us owe a great deal of our philosophical formation to the phenomenologies of Husserl and Heidegger; we have both engaged ourselves in close dialogue with Levinas, Ricœur, and Derrida. Given these evident similarities, it would be more fruitful and interesting, it seems to me, if we take a look here into some of thedifferencesin our respective positions in regards to the phenomenology of God. One question that I would like to put to you, Jean-Luc, and which, in fact, I have put in a more...

    • On Narrative Imagination
      (pp. 33-52)
      Paul Ricœur and RK

      Rk: You have written much about the power of narrative to provide people with a sense of identity and cohesion. You have also written much about the fact that human existence is always in quest of narrative by way of providing us with a historical memory or future. Do you believe that narrative has a positive therapeutic potential?

      Pr: Well, Hannah Arendt claims that “all sorrows may be borne if you may put them into a story or tell a story about them.” She uses Isak Dinesen’s beautiful proverb as the epigraph to her great chapter “Action” inThe Human...

    • Myth, Ideology, Sovereignty
      (pp. 53-62)
      Georges Dumézil and RK

      Rk: There is still some debate as to how exactly your work should be situated and classified. Is it primarily philosophical, sociological, anthropological, theological, or linguistic? After your early research, you begin to define your study of ancient myths and religions as “the comparative study of the Indo-European religions” or simply “Indo-European civilization,” in contradistinction to the earlier title of “comparative mythology.” How does this change in nomenclature describe your specific approach to myth and religion?

      Gd: My work is primarily linguistic, or, to be more precise, philological. That is, the classification and interpretation of ancient myths in terms of...

  5. Part Two: From Dialogues:: The Phenomenological Heritage, 1984
    • Ethics of the Infinite
      (pp. 65-84)
      Emmanuel Levinas and RK

      Rk: Perhaps you could retrace your philosophical itinerary by identifying some of the major influences on your thought?

      El: Apart from the great masters of the history of philosophy—in particular Plato, Descartes, and Kant—the first contemporary influence on my own thinking was Bergson. In 1925, in Strasbourg University, Bergson was being hailed as France’s leading thinker. For example, [Maurice] Blondel, one of his Strasbourg disciples, developed a specifically Bergsonian psychology quite hostile to Freud—a hostility which made a deep and lasting impression on me. Moreover, Bergson’s theory of time as concrete duration(la durée concrète)is, I...

    • The Philosophy of Art and Politics
      (pp. 85-98)
      Herbert Marcuse and RK

      Rk: As a Marxist thinker of international renown and inspirational mentor of student revolutions in both the United States and Europe in the sixties, you have puzzled many by the turn to primarily aesthetic questions in your recent works. How would you explain or justify this turn?

      Hm: It seems to have become quite evident that the advanced industrial countries have long since reached the stage of wealth and productivity which Marx projected for the construction of a socialist society. Consequently, a quantitative increase in material productivity is now seen to be insufficient in itself, and a qualitative change in...

    • The Poetics of Language and Myth
      (pp. 99-125)
      Paul Ricœur and RK

      Rk: How do your later works on metaphor (La Métaphore vive [The Rule of the Metaphor], 1975) and narrativity (Temps et récit, vol. 1 [Time and Narrative], 1983) fit into your overall program of philosophical hermeneutics?

      Pr: InLa Métaphore vive, I tried to show how language could extend itself to its very limits, forever discovering new resonances within itself. The termvive(living) in the title of this work is all-important, for it was my purpose to demonstrate that there is not just an epistemological and political imagination, but also, and perhaps more fundamentally, aLinguisticimagination which generates...

    • Being, God, and the Poetics of Relation
      (pp. 126-138)
      Stanislas Breton and RK

      Rk: Your philosophical journey has been wide-ranging. You have published works on such diverse topics as Neoplatonism, Thomism, Marxism, phenomenology, logic, and poetics. What would you consider to be the unifying threads in this tapestry of intellectual interests?

      Sb: First, I would say that my philosophical journey is related to my biographical one. My early upbringing and education in a rural community in La Vendée certainly had a significant impact on my subsequent thinking; it determined my later leanings towards a certain philosophicalrealism. This perhaps accounts somewhat for the fact that in the doctorate I presented to the Sorbonne,...

    • Deconstruction and the Other
      (pp. 139-156)
      Jacques Derrida and RK

      Rk: The most characteristic feature of your work has been its determination to “deconstruct” the Western philosophy of presence. I think it would be helpful if you could situate your program of deconstruction in relation to the two major intellectual traditions of Westem European culture—the Hebraic and the Hellenic. You conclude your seminal essay on the Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas with the following quotation from James Joyce’sUlysses:“GreekJew is JewGreek.” Do you agree with Levinas that Judaism offers an alternative to the Greek metaphysics of presence? Or do you believe with Joyce that the Jewish and Greek cultures...

  6. Part Three: From States of Mind, 1995
    • Strangers to Ourselves: The Hope of the Singular
      (pp. 159-166)
      Julia Kristeva

      Rk: How would you describe your identity as a European?

      Jk: I consider myself a cosmopolitan. I was lucky in my childhood to learn French at an early stage. My parents sent me to a French preschool in Sofia run by Dominican nuns: it was an offshoot of the Jesuit college in Constantinople. So I started French before my Bulgarian studies. Then those ladies were accused of spying and expelled from Bulgaria. Their work was taken over by the French Alliance. So I learnt French at the same time as Bulgarian, and my entry into French culture was somehow a...

    • Text Matters
      (pp. 167-191)
      Hans-Georg Gadamer, RK and JC

      Rk: What were the milestones on your own way to hermeneutics?

      H-gg: My way to hermeneutics describes my initial experiences with the study of language as a young philologist in Marburg. I had already completed a dissertation on Plato for my first philosophical studies with [Richard] Honigswald, [Paul] Natorp, and Nicolai Hartmann, and I had also met Heidegger. Only then did I actually begin my course of studies as a classical philologist with Paul Friedlander. It was at that point I had the opportunity to recognize the vital importance of a literary genre itself, especially when we are trying to...

    • What Is Just?
      (pp. 192-204)
      Jean-François Lyotard and RK

      Rk: Today you are seen as the first philosopher of the postmodern condition. Yet one of your earliest works was entitled La phénoménologie [Phenomenology] (1954). Howwouldyou describe the development of your own thinking—from phenomenology to postmodernism? Is there a continuity between the two?

      J-fl:La phénoménologiewas a homage to the thought of Merleau-Ponty: a meditation on the body, on sensible experience and, therefore—in contradistinction to Hegel, Husserl, [John-Paul] Sartre—on the “aesthetic” dimension which unfolds beneath the phenomena of consciousness. I was also reading at this time what was available of Heidegger’s work. The little book on...

    • Culture: The Price You Pay
      (pp. 205-215)
      George Steiner and RK

      Rk: Do you believe that there is such a thing as the “whole mind of Europe”?

      Gs: I believe that there is in the history of Europe a very strong central tradition, which is by no means an easy one to live with. It is that of the Roman Empire meeting Christianity. Our Europe is still to an astonishing degree, after all the crises and changes, that Christian Roman Empire. Virgil was taken to be, rightly or wrongly, the prophet of this empire, and Dante the great incarnation. It is very striking that when General de Gaulle, who really used...

    • Universality and the Power of Difference
      (pp. 216-222)
      Paul Ricœur and RK

      Rk: Do you believe in the idea of a European identity?

      Pr: Europe has produced a series of cultural identities, which brought with themselves their own self-criticism, and I think that this is unique. Even Christianity encompassed its own critique.

      Rk: And how would you see this ability to criticize ourselves operating? In terms of Reformations and Renaissances?

      Pr: Yes. Plurality is within Europe itself. Europe has had different kinds of Renaissance—Carolingian, twelfth-century, Italian and French, fifteenth-century, and so on. The Enlightenment was another expression of this; and it is important that in the dialogue with other cultures we...

    • Chaosmos: The Return of the Middle Ages
      (pp. 223-228)
      Umberto Eco and RK

      Rk: You have argued that the Dark Ages is a much maligned period of European history. Why?

      Ue: We can speak of the Dark Ages in the sense that the population of Europe fell by twenty million. The situation was really horrible. The only flourishing civilization was the Irish one, and that’s not by chance. Those Irish monks went to civilize the continent. But immediately after the millennium, we cannot speak any longer of Dark Ages. You know that, about the tenth century, they discovered a new cultivation of beans, all those vegetable proteins. One historian called the tenth century...

  7. Part Four: Colloquies with Richard Kearney
    • Against Omnipotence: God Beyond Power
      (pp. 231-245)
      Villanova Colloquy, LIAM KAVANAGH and RK

      Liam kavanagh: The very title of the conference series which has brought us together today, namely, “Religion and Postmodernism,” raises the question of the possibility of a productive exchange between religious and philosophical narratives. What benefits do you think might follow for religious discourse from bringing philosophically orientated perspectives to bear on the reading of Scripture? Similarly, what benefits do you think might follow for philosophy from direct exposure to and engagement with religious texts?

      Rk: Well, I think it is crucial to maintain an exchange between the two disciplines. The whole rational, conceptual, metaphysical heritage of Greek philosophy meeting...

    • Between Selves and Others
      (pp. 246-252)
      Athens Colloquy, DEMETRIUS TEIGAS and RK

      Demetrius teigas: I would like to put some critical questions to you, not in order to oppose your views, but to welcome your fresh thoughts on the topic of alterity, and also to invite you to elaborate on the diacritical hermeneutics you propose in your recent trilogy. Such an effort, in my opinion, could fill in a gap felt daily in our present historical conditions, where we witness countless exclusions of theotherin terror and suffering. Although you distinguish clearly your proposal for a diacritical hermeneutics from both Gadamerian and radical hermeneutics, it is not evident what exactly you...

    • Between Being and God
      (pp. 253-260)
      Halifax Colloquy, FELIX O’MURCHADHA and RK

      Felix o’murchadha: Two of your most recent books deal explicitly and thematically with the question of God. That is not to say that this issue has been absent from your earlier work. Could you please trace the development of this theme in your philosophical joumey fromPoétique du Possible[The Poetics of the Possible] toThe God Who May BeandStrangers, Gods and Monsters?

      Rk: My first sortie into the God debate was during my time as a doctoral student with Paul Ricœur in Paris in the late 1970s. I was participating in Ricœur’s seminar on hermeneutics and phenomenology,...

    • Confronting Imagination
      (pp. 261-283)
      Stony Brook Colloquy and RK

      Q: I would like to begin by asking when and how you became interested in philosophy and literature. Was there a moment when you realized you would make these fields a lifelong investigation?

      Rk: I think it was probably when I was at secondary school in Ireland. I had a very good French teacher who had just come back from Paris and had read a lot of Heidegger, Sartre, Ricœur, and Derrida. This would have been in the early seventies. So I got my philosophy mainly through the literature of Sartre, [Simone] de Beauvoir, and [Albert] Camus. It was existential...

    • Theorizing the Gift
      (pp. 284-304)
      Boston Colloquy, MARK MANOLOPOULOS and RK

      Mark manolopoulos: In the Derrida/Marion debate “On the Gift” (Villanova, 1997), you ask the question, “Is there a Christian philosophy of the gift?”⁶ Do you think either Derrida or Marion or both provide handy directions? Could you summarize or interpret their insights? And whose argument do you find more persuasive?

      Rk: They did avoid the question. In Derrida’s case, that is logical, because he will always—reasonably for a deconstructionist—try to avoid tying the messianicity of the gift to any messianism as such, be it Christian, Jewish, Islamic, or any other kind. So it makes sense for him not...

    • Thinking Is Dangerous
      (pp. 305-326)
      Dublin Colloquy, STEPHEN J. COSTELLO and RK

      Stephen j. costello: What attracted you to philosophy in the first place? Did you ever want to do anything else, such as medicine, like other members of your family?

      Rk: No, I never wanted to do medicine because I had a terrible fear of blood and was very squeamish when it came to human pain, inflicted or endured. So I wasn’t a good potential doctor or, indeed, sportsman, except sport that did not involve painful physical contact. As a player on the rugby team in Glenstal Abbey (Limerick, Ireland), I was scrum-halfbut that consisted of avoiding forwards rushing in at...

  8. Appendix: Philosophy as Dialogue
    (pp. 327-332)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 333-336)
  10. Index
    (pp. 337-355)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 356-358)