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A Taste for the Secret by Jaques Derrida
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A Taste for the Secret

by Jaques Derrida, Maurizio Ferraris (Author)

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This volume includes two texts. The title of the first includes the title on the cover: "I Have a Taste for the Secret," which is a long interview of Jacques Derrida by Maurizio Ferraris. The interview is pretty wide-ranging, and mostly a somewhat retrospective view of Derrida's life and work. Derrida several times (beginning with an epigraph for the book) identifies himself with Augustine of Hippo, which was an interesting surprise to me, but makes a certain cumulative sense, starting from geography. (Both were "European" intellectuals born in north Africa.) Throughout the interview, there are manifold references to other 20th-century philosophers, and an effort to relate Derrida's themes to the circumstances of modern society.

On pages 57 through 59 there is the most direct discussion of the "secret" of the title, including such observations as these:

"[I]f there is something absolute, it is secret. ...

"Fundamentally, everything I attempt to do, think, teach and write has its raison d'etre, spur, calling and appeal in this secret, which interminably disqualifies any effort one can make to determine it. ...

"For me, the demand that everything be paraded in the public square and that there be no internal forum is the glaring sign of the totalitarianization of democracy."

The second half of the book is the essay "What Is There?" by Ferraris. It is an unusual approach to ontology in a Derridean vein. At the end, Ferraris returns to a theme touched on in the interview regarding dialectic (in both Platonic and Hegelian senses) as a possible point of breaking with Derrida. While Ferraris maintains that "dialectic is the absolute master" (158), Derrida insists on "thinking a dialecticity of dialectics that is itself fundamentally not dialectical" (33).

Although I enjoyed this read a great deal, and felt that it gave me new insight into the Derridean project, it may take me another pass before I can use it as a point of departure for anything in my own work.
4 vote paradoxosalpha | Aug 29, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jaques Derridaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ferraris, MaurizioAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0745623344, Paperback)

In this series of dialogues, Derrida discusses and elaborates on some of the central themes of his work, such as the problems of genesis, justice, authorship and death. Combining autobiographical reflection with philosophical enquiry, Derrida illuminates the ideas that have characterized his thought from its beginning to the present day. If there is one feature that links these contributions, it is the theme of singularity - the uniqueness of the individual, the resistance of existence to philosophy, the temporality of the singular and exceptional moment, and the problem of exemplarity.


The second half of this book contains an essay by Maurizio Ferraris, in which he explores the questions of indication, time and the inscription of the transcendental in the empirical. A work of outstanding philosophy and scholarship, the essay is developed in close proximity to Derrida and in dialogue with figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Kant, Hegel and Heidegger. It thereby provides a useful introduction to the philosophy of one of Italy's most prominent philosophers as well as an excellent complement to Derrida's own ideas.


A Taste for the Secret consists of material that has never before appeared in English. It will be of interest to second-year undergraduates, graduate students and academics in philosophy, modern languages, literature, literary theory and the humanities generally.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:23 -0400)

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