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Europe after DerridaCrisis and Potentiality$
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Agnes Czajka and Bora Isyar

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748683369

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748683369.001.0001

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A Roman Europe of Hope

A Roman Europe of Hope

Reading Derrida with Brague

(p.49) Chapter 3 A Roman Europe of Hope
Europe after Derrida

Bora Isyar

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines the relationship between two different and yet interrelated interpretations of Europe: Remi Brague and Jacques Derrida’s. After briefly outlining the manner in which the two thinkers have interpreted ‘how Europe is’, I ask whether Brague’s characterization of Europe as Romanity – as a perpetual transmission of that which is foreign to itself – can help us understand Derrida’s assertion in the The Other Heading that, ‘what is proper to a culture is to not be identical to itself’. A key concept I take into account while tackling this question is ‘autoimmunity’ as conceptualised by Derrida in his essay ‘Faith and Knowledge’ and in his book, Rogues. If by autoimmunity we understand the way in which the “I” is in need of the “Other” to be, or in other words, the way in which life cannot sustain itself without non-life and identity cannot do without difference, in short, if by autoimmunity we understand the ontological condition in which beings such as ourselves exist, then we must come to terms with (and in fact, in a Nietzschean sense, affirm and rejoice in) the autoimmune character of all communities, including Europe. Following Derrida’s assertion that autoimmunity is neither a threat nor a opportunity but the zone in which the threat posed by it is the very opportunity itself, I ask whether Romanity can be interpreted as an enactment of this autoimmunity, or put differently, whether it can be seen as autoimmunity at work in and through Europe. I argue that such investigation will help us to re-imagine Europe along the lines suggested by Derrida, as that which is always already different from, and yet responsible towards itself. In the final section of the chapter I examine what the implications of such a re-imagination are for crisis-stricken Europe.

Keywords:   Derrida, identity, Rodolphe Gasché, Europe

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