Derrida on Justice

jacques-derridaWhen it comes to justice, Derrida takes it as is. Justice cannot refer to something beyond itself without instantiating a senseless double (the dilemma of Euthaphro). Thus, it is a category by itself. The problem allegedly begins when we start talking specifics because any interpretation of justice is defined in relation to the person defining and applying it. Therefore, for Derrida, any hermeneutic of justice is not justice itself but performs violence to it. The aporia of justice is laid bare here: every instance of enacting justice on earth both honors it and distorts it simultaneously. In other words, every instance of justice is an injustice to itself. But the demands of justice are far too great to be left undecided upon. The risks of inaction are just as great, if not greater, than taking action. Therefore, we must expediently decide on practical matters of justice  using our best judgment knowing full well that our rigorous analytic will always fall short. Even for the Christian who insists that God is justice, the interpretive danger still lurks. Who’s particular conception of God’s justice is right after all? On Derrida’s read this does not imply we should give up being moral but rather must be vigilant in questioning ourselves and others.

(The content and organization of this post is derivative of Bruce Benson’s Graven Ideologies, 139-44)



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