Geoffrey Bennington - Lectures / Workshops / Seminars
DECONSTRUCTION: The Politics of Derrida. (3 credits)
Geoffrey Bennington, Ph.D.
Description: Taking its lead from some of Derrida’s late work, this course will follow the threads of sovereignty and democracy through some of the great texts of political philosophy in the Western tradition. We shall attempt to understand why both of these concepts, albeit in rather different ways, pose such problems for that tradition, and give rise to all manner of complications and paradoxes, which are however (or so I shall argue) definitive of the conceptual space of the political as such. We shall wonder why all political philosophies are enamored of sovereignty, while almost none has anything good to say about democracy. We shall also compare our deconstructive approach to these political questions with some other contemporary accounts, and consider the possibility of a non-trivial affinity between the political and the literary in their constant tendency to exceed philosophy’s grasp.
Objectives: This course provides an account of deconstruction as political thinking via a deconstruction of some of the major motifs of the Western tradition of political philosophy. Deconstruction is favorably compared to some other contemporary approaches to these questions.
Student Learning Outcomes: Students will acquire basic familiarity with deconstructive argumentation in its relation to the metaphysical tradition, and more especially to key concepts in the tradition of political philosophy.
Introduction: Deconstruction, Sovereignty and Democracy
Hobbes’s aristocracy of orators
Derrida, Jacques and Mary Quaintance (Translator). "Force of Law: The Mystical Foundation of Authority." in: Drucilla Cornell, Michel Rosenfeld, David Gray Carlson (Editors). Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice. Routledge. October 8, 1992. Paperback, 420 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0415903041. Buy it at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.fr.
Derrida, Jacques and George Collins (Translator). Politics of Friendship. Verso Books. July 1997. Hardcover, 308 pages, Language English, ISBN: 185984913X. Buy it at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.fr. Paperback, ISBN: 1844670546. Buy it at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.fr.
Derrida, Jacques, Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas (Translators). Rogues: two essays on reason. Stanford University Press. 2005. Paperback, 200 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0804749515. Buy it at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.fr.
Aristotle. The Politics (especially books 1, 3, 5 and 6)
Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan (especially part 1, chapter 4 and part 2, chapters 17-31).
Kant, Immanuel. The Metaphysics of Morals (especially the Doctrine of Right).
Plato. Republic (especially books 1,2, 4, 8 and 9).
Rousseau, Jean Jacques. The Social Contract.
Schmitt, Carl. "Chapter 1, Definition of sovereignty." in: Political Theology. University Of Chicago Press. January 15, 2006. Paperback, 116 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0226738892. Buy it at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.fr.