Off the record: Levinas, Derrida and the secret of responsibility

Boothroyd, Dave (2011) Off the record: Levinas, Derrida and the secret of responsibility. Theory, Culture and Society, 28 (7-8). pp. 41-59. ISSN 0263-2764

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This article aims to demonstrate how the formation of ethical subjectivity must be considered in conjunction with the techno-politics of secrecy and disclosure, and it proposes an account of the ways in which the technical transition and 'democratization' of archival upload/download capacity associated with digital communications fundamentally challenges the existing structure of control over such things as censorship and cultural memory understood in terms of power of recall. It argues that it is against this background and in view of the mediality of communications that the question of responsibility with respect to secrets and their disclosure must ultimately be posed. It seeks to establish the difference between a purely political and an ethico-political understanding of the secrecy/disclosure dyad as this functions, on the one hand, in relation to philosophical inquiry itself and, on the other, in relation to normative representations of informational events, and it contextualizes its theoretical account of this difference in relation to the 'Wikileaks phenomenon' viewed as a disclosive event. It examines how ethical subjectivity is formed in relation to 'information' and in the wider context of a digital culture of archivization, characterized by the ubiquitous recording of communications of all kinds. Drawing centrally on the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, for whom 'infinite responsibility' is 'incarnated' as the 'ultimate secret of subjectivity' in me, and Derrida's account of both the necessary technicity of the human and the impossibility of 'saying the event', it proposes a way of thinking the ethico-techno-politics of secrecy and disclosure in terms of the singularity of the event and the unique responsibility of the ethical Subject in relation to that.

Keywords:deconstruction, Derrida, ethics, event, Levinas, subjectivity, technoculture
Subjects:L Social studies > L300 Sociology
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
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ID Code:14267
Deposited On:05 Aug 2014 20:18

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