A Roman Europe of Hope
A Roman Europe of Hope
Reading Derrida with Brague
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.
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