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Counter-Institutions: Jacques Derrida and the Question of the University

Counter-Institutions: Jacques Derrida and the Question of the University

John D. Caputo series editor
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 150
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  • Book Info
    Counter-Institutions: Jacques Derrida and the Question of the University
    Book Description:

    This book provides a definitive account of Jacques Derrida's involvement in debates about the university. Derrida was a founding member of the Research Group on the Teaching of Philosophy (GREPH), an activist group that mobilized opposition to the Giscard government's proposals to rationalizethe French educational system in 1975. He also helped to convene the Estates General of Philosophy, a vast gathering in 1979 of educators from across France. Furthermore, he was closely associated with the founding of the International College of Philosophy in Paris, and his connection with the International Parliament of Writers during the 1990s also illustrates his continuing interest in the possibility of launching an array of literary and philosophical projects while experimenting with new kinds of institutions in which they might take their specific shape and direction. Derrida argues that the place of philosophy in the university should be explored as both a historical question and a philosophical problem in its own right. He argues that philosophy simultaneously belongs and does not belong to the university. In its founding role, it must come from outsidethe institution in which, nevertheless, it comes to define itself. The author asks whether this irresolvable tension between belongingand not belongingmight not also form the basis of Derrida's political thinking and activism where wider issues of contemporary significance are concerned. Key questions today concerning citizenship, rights, the nation-state and Europe, asylum, immigration, terror, and the returnof religion all involve assumptions and ideas about belonging; and they entail constitutional, legal, institutional and material constraints that take shape precisely on the basis of such ideas. This project will therefore open up a key question: Can deconstruction's insight into the paradoxical institutional standing of philosophy form the basis of a meaningful political response by theoryto a number of contemporary international issues?

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4762-2
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    As Derrida himself points out, in a number of texts we shall come to in a moment, thecontreor counter implies a “with-against” movement, a turning toward and away from, a measure both of distance and proximity (inordinately difficult to calculate, and therefore in constant need of reckoning), which—if one ties the term as intimately as Derrida does to the concept of the institution—implies a deeply complex and highly ambivalent relationship to orthodox academia, official organizations of all kinds, state and party politics, and so forth. This ambivalence, this complexity, is indeed written all over Derrida’s biography....

  5. 1 Counter-Institution, Counter-Deconstruction
    (pp. 25-43)

    Who or what calls for counter-institutions today? What form might they take, and why?

    In recent times, thinking in particular of his lecture on “The University Without Condition” from 1999, Derrida has once more added his voice to others in calling for a rethinking of the university, which would include an analysis of its ongoing redefinition in a variety of contexts: globalization; the restructuring of the nation-state; the transformation of contemporary international politics; the advent of so-called late capitalism and the readjustment of the labor market; the intensifying commercialization of higher learning; the recalibration of the subject; the rise of...

  6. 2 Teaching Deconstruction: Giving, Taking, Leaving, Belonging, and the Remains of the University
    (pp. 44-67)

    In an essay on “Literary Study in the Transnational University,” J. Hillis Miller tries to account for the hostility shown by some practitioners of a certain kind of cultural studies toward what is perceived as “high” theory and, in particular, deconstruction. Describing the emergence of cultural studies as a quasi-discipline, he remarks:

    Insofar as cultural studies still depends on the traditional idea of culture as the production in a subject or subjectivity of an identity produced through indoctrination by a nation-state or by a subculture such as an ethnic or gender community … it was necessary to resist the questioning...

  7. 3 “The Fidelity of a Guardian”: The “Double Keeping” of Jacques Derrida
    (pp. 68-84)

    “The Principle of Reason: The University in the Eyes of Its Pupils”—perhaps one of Derrida’s best known and most influential texts on the question of the university institution—was first presented, in English, in 1983, as the inaugural lecture for the Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large Chair at Cornell University.¹ As Derrida notes in his paper, this was a time when he was closely involved in a complicated planning process that would eventually lead, that same year, to the establishment of the International College of Philosophy in Paris.² As we have already said, the political context for such an initiative...

  8. 4 Auditing Derrida
    (pp. 85-118)

    As long ago as 1995, a special issue of theOxford Literary Review(17) was devoted to the topic of “The University in Ruins.”¹ The obvious reference in the journal’s title to the work of Bill Readings was triply underscored in its pages. The volume was dedicated to Readings, who had been killed tragically in an air crash during the previous year. The first essay in the collection, “Dwelling in the Ruins,” was by Readings himself. And the editorial introduction, written by Timothy Clark and Nicholas Royle, drew heavily on Readings’s contribution to the debate about the contemporary “crisis in...

  9. 5 The Claim of the Humanities: A Discussion with Christopher Fynsk
    (pp. 119-146)

    Christopher Fynsk in his bookThe Claim of Languagecontributes to current debates about the state of the contemporary university by acknowledging the decline in fortunes of those disciplines traditionally associated with the liberal arts, particularly (although by no means exclusively) in North America. Fynsk’s analysis of this deterioration draws upon and further extends the terms of discussion set out by Bill Readings and others over the past decade. Thus, the book intervenes in and adds to a burgeoning literature written by academics frequently associated with the “theoretical” approaches found in the contemporary humanities, in which the significance of a...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 147-154)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 155-160)
  12. Index
    (pp. 161-164)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 165-168)