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Document Details :
Title: Jacques Derrida and Abraham's Heritage
Author(s): GERACI, Silvia
Volume: 72 Issue: 3 Date: 2011
Silvia Geraci argues that the biographical references to his Algerian-Jewish descent that appear throughout Derrida’s writings serve a strictly philosophical aim. Derrida’s reflections on phenomena such as the messianic, the marrano and exemplarity should therefore not be understood as implying that he was struggling to find his way back into the tradition of Judaism. Rather, they represent so many attempts to retrieve conditions, figures, and concepts that are at the root of all monotheistic religions. It is indeed no coincidence, Geraci indicates, that Derrida shows a marked interest for the figure of Abraham, one of the most important patriarchs of Judaism, but at the same time also the founding father of the other monotheistic religions. God’s blessing of Abraham, Derrida argued, occurred before they formed an alliance, before their bond was sealed by circumcision, and thus before the foundation of the Law. This other Abraham is a figure that promises the arrival of a universalism beyond Paulinian cosmopolitanism, a universalism that is open to the singularity of the other and thus a universalism that does not project the effacement of difference. Geraci ends her essay with an essential question: is this universalism of the other Abraham a (quasi-)transcendental condition or does it emerge out of the heritage of Judaism? Derrida does not answer this question, but if he nevertheless decides to remain faithful to the tradition of monotheism by retaining the proper name of Abraham for the promise of a universality to come, he is at the same time fully aware of the danger that its provenance could also erase the memory of its concrete theologico-historical inscriptions.