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Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida Hardcover – June 15, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0226066646 ISBN-10: 0226066649 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (June 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226066649
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226066646
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 7.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,733,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The idea for Philosophy in a Time of Terror was born hours after the attacks on 9/11 and was realized just weeks later when Giovanna Borradori sat down with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida in New York City, in separate interviews, to evaluate the significance of the most destructive terrorist act ever perpetrated. This book marks an unprecedented encounter between two of the most influential thinkers of our age as here, for the first time, Habermas and Derrida overcome their mutual antagonism and agree to appear side by side. As the two philosophers disassemble and reassemble what we think we know about terrorism, they break from the familiar social and political rhetoric increasingly polarized between good and evil. In this process, we watch two of the greatest intellects of the century at work.

About the Author

Giovanna Borradori is an associate professor of philosophy at Vassar College. She is the author of The American Philosopher: Conversations with Quine, Davidson, Putnam, Nozick, Danto, Rorty, Cavell, MacIntyre, Kuhn, published by the University of Chicago Press, and the editor of Recoding Metaphysics: The New Italian Philosophy.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Michael Weintraub on June 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Giovanna Borradori's most recent project is a groundbreaking endeavor to forge a new understanding of terrorism in the post-9/11 age. Her searching questions draw both Habermas and Derrida from their traditionally diametrically opposed philosophical quarters, highlighting their surprisingly similar stances on what they perceive to be the necessary move toward a quasi-Kantian cosmopolitan international law. Moreover, we find in both of these dialogues and Borradori's supplements a reliance upon a few key figures (Kant, Schmitt, and Arendt for example), suggesting that the philosophical traditions with which each figure identifies-Critical Theory for Habermas and Deconstruction for Derrida-are perhaps not as mutually exclusive or sharply demarcated as we might have previously thought.
The structure of the book, dialogue followed by interpretive essay, helps ground the extemporaneous reflections on terrorism in Habermas' and Derrida's broader philosophical work. Habermas here seems much less conservative than in his other works, though his focus in a sense remains on the possibility of communication and understanding in light of the growing threat of terrorist attacks and current US policy. Derrida acts as our guide on a deconstructive journey, marking important moments and movements such as autoimmunity, always hyper-aware of the context (the end of the Cold War) in which 9/11 and the "war on terrorism" have been played out. To be sure, these dialogues also underscore these philosophers' different understandings, particularly in their responses to Borradori's question of 9/11 as an "event," as well as the proper approach to the United States' "war on terror".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 24, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As Borradori states in his introduction, 'Both [Habermas and Derrida] hold that terrorism is an elusive concept that exposes the global political arena to imminent dangers as well as future challenges.' I think that this sums up what many people feel about the war on terrorism - unlike conflicts such as World War I and World War II, or even the more vaguely defined Cold War or Vietnam war, this is a war where there the front-line can be anywhere and nowhere, where the enemies can be anyone and no one, and where the tactics, strategies, motives and hoped-for achievables are so far removed from what traditional political and military methodology deals with that it requires a paradigm shift in our thinking. 'While the Cold War was characterized by the possibility of balance between two superpowers, it is impossible to build a balance with terrorism because the threat does not come from a state but from incalculable forces and incalculable responsibilities.'

As is typical of Derrida, he sees the relationship between terrorism and communication to be paramount. (I was first exposed to Derrida in theology classes, dealing with the postmodern predicament of looking for meaning in language and behind language in ways that make sense). It is perhaps ironic that the term that springs to mind most when contemplating Derrida is 'deconstruction', which is, in often a dramatically literal sense, what terrorism also hopes to achieve. 'The intellectual grounding of Derrida's deconstruction owes much to the nineteenth- and twentieth-century lineage constituted by Nietzsche, Heidegger and Freud. For Derrida, many of the principles to which the Western tradition has attributed universal validity do not capture what we all share or even hope for.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Giovanni Mantilla on January 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book succeeds in two respects. First, both interviews are significant in that they address the subject matter in an analytically rigorous manner, enticing the reader to think-which is by no means a disposable end, in an era of CNN-inspired "analysis"-. The interview with Derrida is particularly enlightening, actually *forcing* you to think "otherwise", to quote another brilliant mind, Foucault. Second, Borradori accomplishes the difficult task of putting in place the reflexions of both philosophers in the context of their own philosophical work, tackling the most important issues relevant to their "way of problematizing", their views on reason, modernity, history, the international context, war & conflict, violence, etc.
This book, of course, does not suffice as a Habermas/Derrida "reader", but it certainly works as a practical exercise in trying to think about the present in ways and words that are not commonplace. Whether you actually agree with Habermas or Derrida is unimportant, what's important is that you have at least given the issue some thought.
I think this book is a small, yet thoroughly enjoyable and worthwile addition to anyone's collection, be it an intellectual or a regular person.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Drexler on March 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Although the section dedicated to Habermas is brief and Derrida is allowed to make a more dynamic impact, Borradori knows very well what she is doing, and ensures that the end relult is that they both complement each other. These two thinkers might occupy opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to a whole host of issues, but "Philosophy in a Time of Terror" is not about who is right and who is wrong or about the reader choosing his/her favourite.
Habermas lays much of the groundwork, reminding us of the relevance of the Enlightenment, championing notions of the public sphere and communicative action. Reason, rationality and discourse have been, and always will be, essential components of any society wishing to realise the Enlightenment ideal. Just as philosophy was vital at the time of the Enlightenment, so too is it needed today in helping us come to terms with terrorism and in conceptualising a future which re-addresses the notion of citizenship, bestowing upon it a global and cosmopolitan character.
Derrida gets to work on much of what Habermas proposes, questioning received wisdom and conceptual systems through his own deconstructive methods. Focusing on 9/11 as an "event" and putting his own spin on globalization, we are invited to temporarily suspend belief and look at things from a more unfamiliar angle. Yes, some of Derrida's points are questionable, overblown and occasionally ridiculous, but his concerns have much in common with those of Habermas: how to realise a world society where primacy is given to international law and the religious undercurrents of political rhetoric are abandoned once and for all,dangerous as they all too often are.
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