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Learning to Live Finally: The Last Interview [Kindle Edition]

Jacques Derrida , Jean Birnbaum , Pascal-Anne Brault
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

With death looming, Jacques Derrida, the world's most famous philosopher, known as the father of "deconstruction," sat down with journalist Jean Birnbaum of the French daily Le Monde. They revisited his life's work and his impending death in a long, surprisingly accessible, and moving final interview.

Sometimes called "obscure" and branded "abstruse" by his critics, the Derrida found in this book is open and engaging, reflecting on a long career challenging important tenets of European philosophy from Plato to Marx.

The contemporary meaning of Derrida's work is also examined, including a discussion of his many political activities. But, as Derrida says, "To philosophize is to learn to die"; as such, this philosophical discussion turns to the realities of his imminent death--including life with a fatal cancer. In the end, this interview remains a touching final look at a long and distinguished career.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews


“No thinker in the last 100 years had a greater impact than he did on people in more fields and different disciplines.... No thinker has been more deeply misunderstood.”

—Mark C. Taylor, New York Times

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

The late Jacques Derrida was Director of Studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and Professor of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine. Among the most recent of his many books translated into English are Eyes of the University, Negotiations, Who's Afraid of Philosophy? and Rogues: Two Essays on Reason.

Product Details

  • File Size: 186 KB
  • Print Length: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (December 6, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004CFAWG6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #820,349 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling July 8, 2007
My five stars is based on the overall value of this work. It offers a better insight into this man than any work ever has--including the film "Derrida" as well as his "Circumfession." If I were to base my rating on pure theoretical value, this would maybe be a "3 Star" review. However, the value of this short work is far greater than that.

I read it in one sitting and it gave me goosebumps on several occasions. These are the chilling words of a dying man baring his soul as he was formerly so opposed to doing.

If you're looking for an introduction to Derrida, this is not the book for you. If you're looking for the icing on the cake or perhaps further inspiration from this man, you will not be disappointed.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deconstructing one's own demise October 30, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm not a big enthusiast of Derrida. Much like those who like to hear themselves talk, I have always come away from Derrida convinced he was someone who liked to watch himself write.
This book is anything but that, and certainly whether you are George Harrison or Jean Paul Sartre, death has a way of sharpening one's focus and editing the superfluous. Heidegger would have simply nodded and said, yes, being-toward-death does that. In the case of Derrida, the infatuation with his own opinions is dismissed and he gets down to what's real here. And to that extent this is indeed a moving, chilling and unblinkingly honest coming to terms.
You can draw your own conclusions when the book ends, but it reminded me of Sartre's HOPE NOW, an astounding last interview with Bernard Henri-Levy who was inisistent on getting Sartre to cop to Messianic Judaism and in his obsessive drive missed what Sartre was saying at the end of his life: that in what he had seen in the course of the human struggle, there was every reason for hope now. Derrida was always more positive than J-P S, and he seems intent on delivering a valedictory for the converted and the curious that by thinking, we approach the being of freedom.
A wonderful way to say good-bye...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars traces of the man September 16, 2008
There are memorable insights into the man Jacques Derrida in this short book. Removed from the rarefied philosophical air of his works, we find him at home with his main support, his wife Marguerite - and an open suitcase - as he faces death. The theme of survival and self-preservation is uppermost in his thoughts and that the traces he has left along the way signify both his impending death and the hope these traces survive him. He is aware of the inbuilt contradictions in his thought and writing `I am at war with myself,' he says and makes no apology - `that is life.' The only disappointing aspect for me is his articulation of a utopian European dream, emerging from political dislocation and crisis, but this does not detract from a thoroughly worthwhile read. Along the way Derrida leads you into some of his texts and the chronologically arranged Selected Bibliography at the end is most useful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars short but intense February 3, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Learning to live,"structurally" is short in pages - like life on earth- but the book is intense, and rich in content. The book starts with the perennial definition " what is life" (qu'est ce que c'est la vie)? Answer: To learn to live is to learn to die. This statement seems to cut short the discussion, but the description of the "thing" after life is better to be described in French: " survie". In French the term can be divided in two parts: sur and vie (life). "Sur" can be translated into above, beyond, in... depending on the context. He choosed "beyond". Apres la vie il y a une vie au-dessus de la vie presente- there is a " beyond life" after the present life". "Sur" also carries the meaning to overcome. For those left behind obviously they have to deal with the "civil" procedures pertaining to the deceased: assets,wills, debt and money( if you are on the list of the top 100 of Forbes) and, those things are not easy to deal with since the survivors have to carry also the emotional burden of the event. Not a very civilized way to deal with somebody who just lost a loved one. But that's only the beginning of the message. Read the book and make your own opinion.
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More About the Author

Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), was born in Algeria, has been called the most famous philosopher of our time. He was the author of a number of books, including Writing and Difference, which came to be seen as defining texts of postmodernist thought.

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