Violence and Metaphysics

In his essay “Violence and Metaphysics” in Writing and Difference , Derrida summarizes Levinas’s claim that metaphysics is a pursuit of totality, of totalizing explanations, that invariably involves conceptual and real violence. Being is not so because it “commands nothing or no one.”

He elaborates: “As Being is not the lord of the existent, its priority (ontic metaphor) is not an archia . The best liberation from violence is a certain putting into question, which makes the search for an archia tremble. Only the thought of Being can do so, and not traditional ‘philosophy’ or ‘metaphysics.’ The latter are therefore ‘politics’ which can escape ethical violence only by economy: by battling violently against the violences of the an-archy whose possibility, in history, is still the accomplice of archism” (141).

One wonders about the bald claim that Being is the “only” way to put into question. What would happen if we discovered that the archia was a person, a crucified person?

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