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The Ear of the Other - Otobiography, Transference, Translation: Texts and Discussions with Jacques Derrida Paperback – Dec 1988

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Product details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press; New edition edition (Dec. 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803265751
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803265752
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 281,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 5 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Derrida reads the subject 4 Sept. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In the book's central essay, Derrida deftly reads a short piece by Nietzsche on the way to reading the subject in the context of autobiography, of words one says about oneself. Those words, of course, return only by way of the ear so that one can locate oneself as the hearing other--hence his essay's title, "Otobiographies." The essay raises again the questions of speech and the voice and of the individual in language--questions that run through all of Derrida's work--as it paves the way for his later writings on the name. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the question of subjectivity that has so engrossed twentieth century philosophy as Derrida's account of the subject and of the way the subject knows about and can speak about itself is original, insightful, and provocative. The volume also includes the transcripts of two roundtable discussions: one on autobiography and one on translation, where Derrida with unusual clarity articulates an accessible version of his thinking on language. Finally there is an interview entitled "Choreographies" in which the editor forces Derrida to consider again the issue of gender and the status of woman. This volume is an often-overlooked but fascinating part of Derrida's corpus that will intrigue both the specialist and someone coming to Derrida's writings for the first time.
By Steven H Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Editor Christie McDonald states in her Preface to this [1988 revised edition] book, “The book grew out of a colloquium held at the University of Montreal in 1979, and was first published in 1984 in French. It is composed of three parts, the first of which is a lecture by Jacques Derrida entitled ‘Otobiographies.’ In it, Derrida analyzes two texts by Friedrich Nietzsche… The second and third parts of the book are roundtable discussions about autobiography and translation. Colleagues from several academic institutions and fields of study … agreed to meet Jacques Derrida across the table and to formulate thoughts and questions aroused by his work.” (Pg. vii) She adds, “Sexual identity appears as a leitmotif throughout ‘The Ear of the Other.’ Following the logic of Derrida’s argument, if the ‘I’ is indeterminate in language as we use it, the sex of the addresser can only be determined by the other. Destination determines the destiny of gender, in this incipient theory.” (Pg. x)

In the text on Nietzsche, Derrida says, “I shall not read Nietzsche as a philosopher… or as a scholar or scientist, if these three types can be said to share the abstraction of the bio-graphical and the claim to leave their lives and names out of their writings. For the moment, I shall read Nietzsche beginning with the scene from ‘Ecce Homo’ where his puts his body and his name out front even though he advances behind masks or pseudonyms without proper names.” (Pg. 7)

Derrida says in his first statement during the roundtable, ‘I should not have to reply right away to such fully elaborated and serious questions---and by improvising no less. Our agreement for this exchange is that I should try to improvise a response even when I am not sure that I can do so adequately. Well, I am aware that in a few sentences I will not be able to meet the demands of a question whose elaborations and presuppositions are of such a vast scope. Nevertheless, I’ll take my chances with an answer.” (Pg. 49)

He continues, “I speak myself to myself in a certain manner, and my ear is thus immediately plugged into my discourse and my writing. But the necessity of passing onto and by way of the ear is not just this. Nor is it just the necessity of labyrinth motif which, in Nietzsche, plays an altogether decisive role … To be more precise, it is, in the context that interested me yesterday, the difference in the ear. First of all, the difference in the ear is, clearly, the difference in the size of ears. There are smaller or larger ears. The larger the ear, the more it is bent toward the pavilion… the more finesse it lacks in its attention to difference… The ear of the other says me to me and constitutes the ‘autos’ of my autobiography. When, much later, the other will have perceived with a keen-enough ear what I will have addressed or destined to him or her, then my signature will have taken place.” (Pg. 51)

Derrida points out, “As for me, I’m no fan of modernity. I have no simple belief in the irreducible specificity of ‘modernity.’ I even wonder if I have ever used that word. In any case, I am very mistrustful whenever people identify historical breaks or when they say, ‘This begins there.’” (Pg. 84)

He explains, “When I made use of this word [“deconstruction”], I had the sense of translating two words from Heidegger at a point where I needed them in the context. These two words are ‘Destruktion,’ which Heidegger uses, explaining the Desgtruktion is not a destruction but precisely a destructuring that dismantles the structural layers in the system, and so on. The other word is ‘Abbau,’ which has a similar meaning: to take apart an edifice in order to see how it is constituted or deconstituted. This is classic. What was not so classic, however, was what this force… was applied to: the whole of classical ontology, the whole history of Western philosophy. The word got highlighted in the context of the period, which was more or less dominated by structuralism.” (Pg. 86-87)

He states, “What does philosophy say? Let’s imagine that it’s possible to ask such a question: What does philosophy say? What does the philosopher say when he is being a philosopher? He says: What matters is truth or meaning, and since meaning is before or beyond language, it follows that it is translatable. Meaning has the commanding role, and consequently one must be able to fix its univocality or, in any case, to master its plurivocality.” (Pg. 120)

Derrida responds to the question, “Do you consider poetry to be subordinated finally to philosophical discourse?”: “here I would say: Neither one nor the other. And I don’t say that to evade your question easily. I think that a text like ‘Glas’ is neither philosophic nor poetic. It circulates between these two genres, trying meanwhile to produce another text which would be of another genre or without genre… Yet I myself do not read the genre of this body as either philosophic or poetic. This means that if your questions were addressed to the philosopher, I would have to say no. As for me, I talk about the philosopher, but I am not simply a philosopher. I say this even though, from an institutional point of view, I practice the trade of philosophy professor… It is in this strategic context that on occasion I have spoken of philosophy’s usefulness in translating or deciphering a certain number of things, such as what goes on in the media, and so on.” (Pg. 140-141)

This book is very helpful at clarifying a number of Derrida’s positions, and will be of great interest and value to anyone seriously studying Derrida.
5 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Don't be fooled indeed 1 Jan. 2004
By Client d'Amazon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Don't be fooled by those claiming Derrida is the "other" of reason, 'Niemals noch hängte sich die Wahrheit an den Arm eines unbedingeten'. Coloured perspective and prejudice are also quite old 'cons'.
Double bind: Derrida defies metaphysics, yet of course inherently fails this attempt (we are all metaphysical beings). This is where conservative thinkers and bigots claim Derrida to be a con... I think not: Derrida tries to do, to think, to operate something different... indeed an "other" reason. Either you try to follow him, or you don't.
A criticism on this book is that Derrida focuses too much on 'microphilosophy'; indeed from a rigourous point of view autobiography is impossible... Différance, dissemination, archi-écriture, griffe, trace, etc...
Yet what Derrida (willfully?) forgets is that numerous autobiographies HAVE BEEN written. Of course he can reply that his point is exactly that those are not autiobiographies, but that is a superficial retort. In my opinion this doubleness, i daresay duality renders Derrida himself a metaphysicist (to continue in the terminology).
By (no doubt partly polemically) ruling out autobiography as such, and a priori (death of the author, etc.), Derrida implicitly contradicts a reality, instead of unveiling that reality.
Though this remains, together with 'Éperons' an excellent introduction into Derrida's unusually nuanced thought.
9 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Archewriting 7 Dec. 2000
By Solstice Hagerman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Jacques Derrida is the "other" of reason. Actually, he's an inverted Kantian, nothing more. This is the sort of text his alterity-stricken fan club gets excited about. Its conversational style gives the impression that deep insights are waved at because they just never show up. The reader is made to feel that he missed something. And then the game is lost. Intangibility becomes intrinscially virtuous, and so the reader forgives the great Derrida's omissions, who is relieved of the responsibility of answering his own questions. Don't be fooled. He can't answer those questions because the special discourse he reserves for himself prohibits him from doing so in principle. That's the oldest con in the book. Derrida is the "other" of reason.
9 of 31 people found the following review helpful
This is really not a good book 28 Jan. 2000
By Andrew - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It's a collection of transcriptions of conversations/debates on various subjects between Derrida and other scholars. Sometimes I laughed out loud at the ridiculous statements and non-sequiturs.
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