Reading Derrida and Ricoeur

Improbable Encounters between Deconstruction and Hermeneutics

By Eftichis Pirovolakis

Subjects: Cultural Studies
Series: SUNY series, Insinuations: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, Literature
Paperback : 9781438429502, 238 pages, January 2011
Hardcover : 9781438429496, 238 pages, February 2010

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Table of contents

1. Ricoeur on Husserl and Freud: From a Perceptual to a Reflective Present
Ricoeur Reading Husserl: The Thick Present and Continuity
Freud’s Quantitative Hypothesis and Unconscious Autonomy
From a Perceptual to a Reflective Present
2. Derrida and Rhythmic Discontinuity
Husserl’s Aporia: Discontinuity and Repetition
The Necessary Possibility of Difference and Syncopated Temporality
Freud: Permeability and Impermeability, Life and Death
First Inscription and Nachträglichkeit
Scriptural Metaphorics
3. Ricoeur’s Hermeneutics of the Self
The Singularity of the Speaking Subject
Idem and Ipse: From Narrative Identity to the Ethical Self
Benevolent Selfhood
Oneself as Another
Concluding Remarks
4. Secret Singularities
Spacing, Iterability, Signatures
Secrets of Speech
Originary Mourning: In Memory of the Absolutely Other
An Unexperienced Experience: The Absolute Arrivant
Appendix: “The Word: Giving, Naming, Calling,” by Jacques Derrida

Offers a constructive new approach to the debate between hermeneutics and deconstruction.


Written in the aftermath of the deaths of the French philosophers Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) and Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005), this book is an important and innovative study of the contentious relation between deconstruction and hermeneutics. Offering close readings of Derrida's and Ricoeur's writings on phenomenology, psychoanalysis, structuralist linguistics, and Levinasian ethics, Eftichis Pirovolakis introduces the motif of 'improbable encounters,' and explicates why the two thinkers may be said to be simultaneously close to each other and separated by an unbridgeable abyss. Pirovolakis complicates any facile distinction between these movements, which are two of the most influential streams of continental thought, and questions a certain pathos with respect to the distance separating them. Pirovolakis also translates Derrida's brief tribute to Ricoeur: "The Word: Giving, Naming, Calling," which appears here in English for the first time. The book is essential reading for anyone immersed in continental philosophy or literary theory.

Eftichis Pirovolakis teaches literature and philosophy at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.