Friday, August 5, 2011
Hägglund's response to Caputo
"We can thus understand why Derrida insists on a distinction between faith, on the one hand, and the religious ideal of absolute immunity (the unscathed) on the other. The two are usually conflated in the notion of religious faith, which is understood as the faith in an absolute good that is safe from the corruption of evil. Drawing on his logic of radical evil, however, Derrida reads the religious ideal of absolute immunity against itself. To have faith in the good is not to have faith in something that can be trusted once and for all. On the contrary, the good is autoimmune because evil is inherent in its own constitution. As Derrida emphasizes, there is 'nothing immune, safe and sound, heilig and holy, nothing unscathed in the most autonomous living present without a risk of autoimmunity.' The argument here—articulated in Derrida's main essay on religion, 'Faith and Knowledge'—is that the very movement of sacralization is contradicted from within by a constitutive autoimmunity. To hold something to be sacred is to seek to immunize it, to protect it from being violated or corrupted. Yet one cannot protect anything without committing it to a future that allows it to live on and by the same token exposes it to corruption” (132).
"The unconditional is the spacing of time that is the structure of the here and now, the structure of what happens, of the event.... I argue that both Caputo and a number of other influential readers of Derrida have misconstrued the logic of the relation between the unconditional and the conditional. What is 'called' for by the unconditional is not something unconditional (e.g. unconditional love) but rather acts of engagement and performative commitments that are conditional responses to an unconditional exposure. That performative acts are conditional does not mean that they are determined in advance but that they are dependent on a context that is essentially vulnerable to change. This unconditional exposure may always alter or undermine the meaning of the performative act and is therefore not reducible to it" (137).
“The impossible for Derrida is not somewhere we can never go—or something we can never reach—but rather where we always find ourselves to be. The impossible is what happens all the time, since it designates the impossibility of being in itself that is the condition of temporality.... That we desire the impossible, then, does not mean that we desire something above or beyond the possible. On the contrary, it means that whatever we desire is constituted by temporal finitude, which makes it impossible for it to be in itself. This impossibility of being in itself has traditionally been regarded as a negative predicament that we desire to overcome, since it opens for corruption at every moment. Derrida‟s radical atheist argument, however, is that the impossibility of being in itself is not a negative predicament. Rather, the impossibility of being in itself opens the chance of everything we desire and the threat of everything we fear” (141).