Remembrance for Derrida on campus yesterday. Three panelists.
Judith Butler: Derrida spent his life trying to learn how to live and how to die. He considered this knowledge unattainable. Yet the search continues. Think of Socrates.
Pheng Cheah: Derrida spoke of the gift of timeif there is such a thingfor we know time only through its slippage and effacement. It is never present in itself. Similarly, a gift cannot be acknowledged as gift, for acknowledgment implies debt, debt implies repayment, repayment effaces the original fact of the gift. Certain debts must remain unpaid. What implications does this have for time?
Richard Rorty: I never understood what deconstruction was. If you think that the main achievement of mid-twentieth-century philosophy was that of the later Wittgenstein, Quine, Davidson, etc., who made us see words in terms of their use, rather than as kernels of meaning that you can deconstruct, then you're not going to have much use for it. I think in time we'll remember Derrida for other things, just as we no longer consider Nietzsche primarily as the philosopher of the superman. Derrida comes out of the anti-metaphysical tradition started by the Sophists and reawakened by Nietzsche. He took Heidegger's tragedy of existence and rewrote it as farce.
Woman in audience: I feel such a presence here as we're talking. Professor Rorty, do you think we'll speak with Derrida again in this life?
Richard Rorty: Er, what's that?
Judith Butler: She said, will we ever speak with Derrida again in this life?
Richard Rorty: No.