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A duet of chora: différance in Derrida and (personal) identity in Whitehead: from a perspective of betweenness

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2008, (41), pp.135-164
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities

Iljoon Park 1

1감리교신학대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

Chora is a nameless name, which points to "the third" in Plato's Timaeus, along with the so-called form and the so-called matter. After explaining the cosmo-genesis, Timaeus, the protagonist in the story, returns to a point where the story was begun and starts to retell it with what is missing in his first narration, with the third which has necessarily to be mentioned and yet which can be referred to neither as form nor as matter. This is chora which is the foster mother of all things in the world. By interpreting chora as différance, which means the structural movement of differing and deferring, Derrida turns upside down the hierarchy of identity, which derives from the auto-affection. The signified, which has seemed to support the order of identity, in fact derives from the play of differing and deferring, and not vice versa. The origin of the myth of the same lies in the auto-affection of organism generating violence and discrimination to the other, because the other the auto-affection constructs is not the other as existing out there but that as deported from the boundary of the self. However, both the self and the other are the children given birth to by the play of differing and deferring. Also, any identity can gain a meaning because there is difference between the self and the other. Instead of seeing it as 'the locus of differing and deferring,' Whitehead interprets chora as a general guiding principle that imposes a harmonious unity upon nature and personal identity. He develops the passive chora into his own notion of creativity by adding the dynamic of the divine eros to it. Here, Plato's chora is no longer a passive place where things incoming are merely combined with the so-called forms. It becomes a place where a new universe or a new personal identity is born each time by the creative and harmonious unity of chora-tic force and where, rather than being an one-time event, all the births secure their own continuity in the unity and/or identity chora imposes upon them. The point of argument in this paper is that the seemingly contradictory opposition between Derrida's and Whitehead's interpretations of chora is in fact complementary to each other. For Whitehead, the universe does not independently exist out there, but it is rather creatively actualized through the concrescence of each actuality. This from the beginning presumes pluri-verses rather than a uni-verse. That is, the identity of chora Whitehead puts forth is not an identity excluding any difference but rather that being based upon differences. The creativity of chora is nothing but a general guiding principle that supports all the processes in the world between difference and identity. This paper suggests that the word 'between' here is apt to describing a place where chora should be. Given that difference between the self and the other derives from the auto-affection, there is no difference between them at the beginning but a 'between'(or betweenness or das Zwischen in Heidegger's terms), which can be defined neither as the self nor as the other. In this vein, this paper tries to weave the two different melodies of difference and identity into a harmony of betweenness, attempting to reinterpret the originally natural force of life not as any substance but as 'between.'

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