The Other Heading: Reflections on Today's Europe

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Indiana University Press, 1992 - History - 129 pages
Prompted by the unification of Europe in 1992 and by recent events in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, Jacques Derrida begins this compelling essay on contemporary world politics with the issue of European identity. What, he asks, is Europe? How has Europe traditionally been defined and how is the current world situation changing that definition? Might the prospects of a New Europe demand not only a new definition of European identity but also a new way of thinking identity itself? Like a navigator, Derrida sets out from a Europe that has always defined itself as the capital of culture, the headland of thought, in whose name and for whose benefit exploration of other lands, other peoples, and other ways of thinking has been carried out. If such Eurocentric biases are not to be repeated, Derrida warns, the question of Europe must be asked in a new way; it must be asked by recalling another heading. Not only is it necessary for Europe to be responsible for the other, but its own identity is actually constituted by the other. Rejecting the easy or programmatic solutions of Euruocentrism or anti-Eurocentrism, of total unification or complete dispersion, Derrida argues for the necessity of working with and from the Enlightenment values of liberal democracy while at the same time recalling that these values do not themselves ensure respect for the other. Navigating in and through texts of Marx, Husserl, and especially Valery, Derrida seeks a redefinition of European identity that includes respect both for difference and for universal values. The Other Heading appeals eloquently for a sustained effort at thinking through the complexity along with the multiple dangers andopportunities of the contemporary world situation without resorting to easy or hasty solutions.

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The other heading: reflections on today's Europe

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Derrida is a French philosopher and literary theorist who has become famous (some would say notorious) for his pioneering work in the area of deconstruction. It seems a little surprising that such an ... Read full review



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About the author (1992)

Jacques Derrida was born in El-Biar, Algeria on July 15, 1930. He graduated from the École Normal Supérieure in 1956. He taught philosophy and logic at both the University of Paris and the École Normal Supérieure for around 30 years. His works of philosophy and linguistics form the basis of the school of criticism known as deconstruction. This theory states that language is an inadequate method to give an unambiguous definition of a work, as the meaning of text can differ depending on reader, time, and context. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 40 books on various aspects of deconstruction including Of Grammatology, Glas, The Postcard: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond, and Ulysses Gramophone: Hear Say Yes in Joyce. He died of pancreatic cancer on October 9, 2004 at the age of 74.

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