Avowing Violence: Foucault and Derrida on Politics, Discourse and Meaning
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Philosophy and Social Criticism
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This article enquires into the understanding of violence, and the place of violence in the understanding of politics, in the work of Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. These two engaged in a dispute about the place of violence in their respective philosophical projects. The trajectories of their respective subsequent bodies of thought about power, politics and justice, and the degrees of affirmation or condemnation of the violent nature of reality, language, society and authority, can be analysed in relation to political traditions of realism, radicalism and liberalism. We trace the starting points, and points of convergence and divergence between them, and consider the implications of their work for our capacity to critically judge episodes and uses of violence in political contexts.