Original Research

Beyond categories, proper names, types and norms toward a fragile openness (Offen-barkeit) of différance, but always from within the text

Johann-Albrecht Meylahn
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 68, No 1 | a1003 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v68i1.1003 | © 2012 Johann-Albrecht Meylahn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 November 2010 | Published: 16 January 2012

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Johann-Albrecht Meylahn, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

This article sought to respond to Wessel Stoker’s interpretation of transcendence, specifically his last type: transcendence as alterity. It explored the possibilities of this last type as it moves beyond categories, proper names, types and norms toward a fragile openness of différance, always from within the text. This transcendence of alterity paves a way for discussion on what is beyond being or beyond language, either horizontally or vertically, so as to move away from dogmatic assertiveness toward a more poetic humility. This poetic humility, because of its openness (Offen-barkeit) and its ‘undogmaticness’, offers a fragile creativeness to our cultural–social–environmental encounters and praxis. Such poetics is found in Heidegger’s work, as he interpreted humanity to dwell poetically in the house of being (language), if language speaks as the Geläut der Stille. Yet Heidegger did not move far enough beyond names and proper names, as he named and identified the kind of poetry that would be ‘proper’ to respond to the Geläut der Stille. Derrida deconstructed Heidegger’s interpretation and exposed Heidegger’s disastrous method of capitalising cultural-political names, moving beyond such capitalisation of ‘proper’ names toward différance and a messianic expectation without Messiah. In this artricle, both Heidegger and Derrida’s conceptions were brought into dialogue with the types of transcendence proposed by Stoker. This showed that Derrida’s thoughts deconstruct Heidegger’s proper poems and, in doing so, move towards openness and a continual response to différance not with grand German-Greek poetry, but with fragile, temporary and maybe even prophetic poetry that is wounded by the continuous expectation of the messianic still to come. As an (in)conclusion, the article explored the possibilities that such a hermeneutics of différance can offer religion and culture in a particular local and highly divided national context of post-apartheid South Africa as a microcosm of a global world, whilst being fully aware of the dangerous return of too many proper names and Begriffe within such an (in)conclusion.

Keywords

Poetics; God-talk; Postmetaphysical; transcendence; poetics; Heidegger; Levinas; Derrida

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