Notes for Jacques Derrida Aporias

Key concepts: aporia, Babelization, border, problem, shibboleth effect.


Related theorists: Cicero, Diderot, Heidegger, Seneca.


I Finis

Must we know Diderot to follow Derrida, and is this problem isomorphic to the dilemma at the heart of the philosophy of computing?

Trying to download free PDF being asked to login but not necessary, only to be offered a nine dollar day pass, so it is false that this is a free download, but the false offer sufficed to answer my question prompting the query for the correct wording of the title, plural not singular.

(1) In this case, Diderot's authority will appear all the more reassuring since he seems to denounce a “general defect,” in particular that of “letting oneself be carried beyond the limits of truth.”
(1) the limits of truth are borders that must not be exceeded.

Make ridiculous link between touching limits of truth and Tetris boundary tests.

(2) In sum, he provokes us to think what the pardon can be when it touches upon the limits of truth.
(3) Diderot asks pardon for Seneca, more precisely for the author of
De brevitate vitae. . . . While pretending to accuse Seneca, for whom he apparently demands pardon, Diderot in truth asks pardon for himself, from the very moment that he also accuses himself in the name of Seneca. This is the story of my life—that is what must always be heard when someone speaks of someone else, cites or praises him or her.
(3) What about borders with respect to death? About borders of truth and borders of property? We are going to wander about in the neighborhood of this question.
(3) What is therefore in question is to think the very principle of jealousy as the primitive passion for property and as the concern for the proper, for the proper possibility, in question for everyone, of his existence. . . . In sum, the border (
finis) of this property would be more essential, more originary, and more proper than those of any other territory in the world.
(4-5) What does he conclude from this? That to put off until later, to defer (
differre), and above all to defer wisdom, wise resolutions, is to deny one's condition as mortal. One then gives in to forgetting and to distraction; one dissimulates to oneself being-to-death.

Cicero notices border crossings between language, and gave advice to translators.

(5) In his De finibus, Cicero is, as always, attentive to the crossing of borders between languages, Greek and Latin.

Unique mode of inclusion of belonging to a language is shared with artificial machine languages.

(6-8) Insofar as it speaks, this sentence—il y va d'un certain pas—would also testify to its belonging. . . . belonging to a language is undoubtedly not comparable to any other mode of inclusion: for example, to limit ourselves to a few elements, belonging to a language does not compare, at first sight, with inclusion in the space of citizen ship or nationality; natural, historical, or political borders; geography or geo-politics; soil, blood, or social class. . . . Such totalities therefore no longer authorize simple inclusions of a part in the whole. For this pas involves the line that terminates all determination, the final or definitional line—peras this time rather than telos. And peras is precisely what Cicero could also have translated by finis. . . . What, then, is it to cross the ultimate border? What is it to pass the term of one's life (terma tou biou)? Is it possible? What has ever done it and who can testify to it? The “I enter,” crossing the threshold, this “I pass” (perao) puts us on the path, if I may say, of the aporos or of the aporia: the difficult or the impracticable, here the impossible, passage, the refused, denied, or prohibited passage, indeed the nonpassage. . . . It would be the “coming to pass” of an event that would no longer have the form or the appearance of a pas: in sum, a coming without pas.
(8)
Il y va d'un certain pas: all these words and each of these enunciations would therefore belong, hypothetically and on account of this clause of nonbelonging that we have just noted, to the French language.
(8-9) Here it is necessary to speak French. French makes the law. And since this law should also be a law of hospitality . . . I therefore thought I had to begin with an untranslatable sentence, getting myself all tied up already in Greek and Latin. . . . Unless, of course, the password also allows one to gain time.
(9) No context can determine meaning to the point of exhaustiveness. . . . For any translation into a non-French language would lose something of its potential multiplicity. . . . The
shibboleth effect operates within, if one may still say so, the French language.
(10) A certain pragmatics thus inscribes this border
in the vary inside of the so-called French language. Like any pragmatics, it takes into consideration gestural operations and contextual marks that are not all and thoroughly discursive. Such is the shibboleth effect: it always exceeds meaning and the pure discursivity of meaning.

Can Babelization happen with machine languages?

(10) Babelization does not therefore wait for the multiplicity of languages. The identity of a language can only affirm itself as identity to itself by opening itself to the hospitality of a difference from itself or of a different with itself. . . . Endekhomai means to take upon oneself, in oneself, at home, with oneself, to receive, welcome, accept, and admit something other than oneself, the other than oneself.

Problem as projection, shield in tension with aporia, the haphazardly chosen title like the archive fever.

(11) There is a problem as soon as the edge-line is threatened. And it is threatened from its first tracing.
(12) I keep the word
problem for another reason: so as to put this word in tension with another Greek word, aporia, which I chose a long time ago as a title for this occasion, without really knowing where I was going. . . . There, in sum, in this place of aporia, there is no longer any problem. Not that, also, or fortunately, the solutions have been given, but because one could no longer even find a problem that would constitute itself and that one would keep in front of oneself, as a presentable object or project, as a protective representative or a prosthetic substitute, as some kind of border still to cross or behind which to protect oneself.

Passing through decades old notes refreshing initial bias with technology studies, now planning in contribution of technological nonconscious during philosophical speculation.

On the encounter of aporia, with respect to both my church-going behavior and thoughts by Derrida on the syntagm my death and his reading of Heidegger.

(33) Let us ask: what takes place, what comes to pass with the aporia? Is it possible to undergo or to experience the aporia, the aporia as such? Is it then a question of the aporia as such? Of a scandal arising to suspend a certain viability? Does one then pass through this aporia? [think of us standing at someone's door, equally the Other to them as we are to them] Does one then pass through this aporia? Or is one immobilized before the threshold, to the point of having to turn around and seek out another way, the way without method or outlet of a Holzweg or a turning that could turn the aporia – all such possibilities of wandering?

The absolute arrivant surprises the host, makes possible humanity of man: tempting to read Heidegger on this border.

(33-35) No, I am talking about the absolute arrivant, who is not even a guest. He surprises the host—who is not yet a host or an inviting power—enough to call into question, to the point of annihilating or rendering indeterminate, all the distinctive signs of a prior identity. . . does not have a name or an identity. It is not an invader or an occupier, nor is it a colonizer, even if it can also become one. . . . Now the border that is ultimately most difficult to delineate, because it is always already crossed, lies in the fact that the absolute arrivant makes possible everything to which I have just said it cannot be reduced, starting with the humanity of man, which some would be inclined to recognize in all that erases, in the A, the characteristic of (cultural, social, or national) belonging and even metephysical determination (ego, person, subject, consciousness, etc.). It is on this border that I am tempted to read Heidegger. Yet this border will always keep one from discriminating among the figures of the A, the dead, and the revenant (the ghost, he, she, or that which returns).


Derrida, Jacques. Aporias.