Sovereignty Conditioned and Unconditioned


The publication of lectures inevitably raises questions about their place in the “work” of the author. How do these lectures relate to Derrida’s published works and what status should they be accorded within the corpus of his work? It is apparent that they are not texts fully worked up for publication, although some parts of them were published. As successive sessions within a year-long course, they are less formal and more discursive, if that is the right word, than many of the published works. They traverse a variety of themes, philosophemes, topics and concerns, with many digressions, including more than the occasional anecdote, personal remark or piece of Parisian gossip (such as the account in the Fifth Session of what Lacan supposedly said about Derrida, Abraham and Torok in a seminar “that has never been and no doubt never will be published” (B&S I 145). They proceed at a leisurely pace that allows not only for frequent mention of things to be discussed (for example, that the reason of the strongest is always the best), but also for looping back to things already discussed, which are then taken up and developed further. Much time is devoted to reading primary texts. In these and other ways, these lectures function as a workshop in which analyses, interpretations and commentaries can be worked out, perhaps with a view to future, more formal publication.

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