Friday, 16 November 2012

Metaphysics of Messianic Time - University of Iceland 28th November

I will be giving a paper titled 'The Metaphysics of Messianic Time:  Benjamin, Derrida, McTaggart' at the University of Iceland on Wednesday the 28th of Novemeber at 1500 hours, room details to be announced.

Here is the abstract of the paper:

In his book Specters of Marx Jacques Derrida confronts the end of history and the problems of the future with a “strange concept of messianism without content, of the messianic without messianism” (p. 82).  This would seem to evoke or reference Walter Benjamin’s concept of messianic time that appears in his Theses on the Philosophy of History.  However, an analysis of this apparent connection is never fully explored in Specters of Marx, which leaves Derrida’s conception of the messianic curiously incomplete.  In this paper I will argue that instead of omission through oversight, Derrida in fact shies away from this confrontation in order to avoid the question of the connection between theology and philosophy.  This question is one that must be asked about Derrida’s work; and just as he may be criticised for not fully engaging with the theological, he can also be accused of being too engaged at the expense of scientific rationality.  To counter this latter accusation I will explore similarities between the accounts of messianic temporality developed by Benjamin and Derrida and that produced by the metaphysics of time as defined by the ‘analytic’ tradition - specifically in terms of McTaggart’s paradox.  Through this comparison I will sketch out some consequences for the philosophical concepts of space and time, and the rethinking of metaphysics that these consequences necessitate.

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