Giving guilt: the aneconomy of law and justice

Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Andreas (2011) Giving guilt: the aneconomy of law and justice. Distinktion, 12 (1). pp. 79-93. ISSN 1600-910X

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The concept of guilt is seen here as debt beyond repayment. Following Derrida, the gesture of giving is placed in the economy of gift, an aneconomical gift that is not part of the exchange cycle. At the same time, guilt is linked to desire, the desire to give and to be free from guilt. Desire is described as the urge to cross over, to apprehend the non-identical and to give oneself away. In this reinforced crossing, where the improbability of giving conditions the improbability of reaching out, guilt and its impetus are found locked up in claustrophobic self-reference. For this reason, the author consults Kierkegaard and Luhmann whose contributions show that the gesture of giving acquires its relevance not so much on account of its recipient, but precisely because of the absence of such a recipient. The combination of an absent recipient and an absented giver fills the gift with an emptiness that can only be channelled back upon itself, in the autopoietics of guilt. This is exactly the fate of the law, which can deal with the guilty but never with guilt (in the above sense). In its attempt to give away guilt, the law attempts to become other than itself: justice. The improbability of crossing over becomes more obvious than ever.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: University of Westminster > Westminster Law School
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Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2012 09:43
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2017 12:30

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