Levinas, Derrida and Blanchot: Testimony, in the Depth of the Silence of History, or Beyond History


Author: WANG Hai, Associate Professor, School of Liberal Arts, Renmin  University of China.


Since World War II, the crisis of testimony has always been an important and challenging problem in legal, political, and historical research. The rise of witness literature, the theme of which is explicitly or implicitly Holocaust, becomes an important opportunity for contemporary thoughts to reflect on the inherent limits, or the blind spots, of historical thinking, regarding the issue of testimony. It also revives the religious and poetic dimensions of the concept of testimony, which have been repressed or even erased by positivism in secular modernity. By analyzing Levinas' critique of history, Derrida’s explanation of the compossibility between witness and literature, and Blanchot's discussion on the paradoxical relations among literature, memory, and forgetting, this paper argues that literature and art witness the unexperienced in the depth of silence of history, or, beyond history, and guard the non-relational relation with the immemorial.


testimony; Blanchot; Levinas; Derrida; literature

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