From différance to justice

Derrida and Heidegger's "anaximander's saying"

Björn Thorsteinsson

pp. 255-271

Considerations of Jacques Derrida's oeuvre, and of deconstruction as theory and practice, are bound to revolve around Derrida's key notion of différance, developed at the outset of his career. However, Derrida's conception of justice, which started to make its presence felt in his work in the late 1980s, should also be considered to play a major role, not least when bearing in mind his declaration, made in 1989, that "deconstruction is justice." In this paper, the relation between différance and justice is explored against the background of Martin Heidegger's essay "Anaximander's Saying" which, it is argued, played a formative role in the development of Derrida's thinking. Derrida's analysis of justice as being comprised of three aspects—justice as idea, as law or right (droit) and as deconstruction—is shown to bear a strong resemblance with the conceptual scheme drawn from Anaximander in Heidegger's essay. The parallels between Derrida's différance and the notion of usage (Brauch), described by Heidegger as "the early word for Being," are also brought out.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11007-015-9326-4

Full citation:

Thorsteinsson, B. (2015). From différance to justice: Derrida and Heidegger's "anaximander's saying". Continental Philosophy Review 48 (2), pp. 255-271.

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