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Beyond the Limits of Language

Apophasis and Transgression in Contemporary Theoretical Discourse


Agata Wilczek

The book explores the way in which apophatic discourse of negative theology has illuminated contemporary critical theory. It demonstrates the significance of apophasis both in Jacques Derrida’s search for a «new language», responsive to singularity and alterity, and in the analyses of the experience of transgression, developed by Maurice Blanchot, George Bataille and Michel Foucault. Following Derrida’s understanding of negative theology as a transgressive concept that transcends the linguistic, historical and religious contexts from which it arises, the book proves that apophasis is not merely a discourse on language restricted to one theological tradition, but should be viewed as a mode of dialogue and openness, essential to all responsible thinking.
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Chapter Two: Dialogue


Even there where there are dialogues, in Plato […] these dialogues remain in the service of the monologic thesis. In my case – and I’m not going to compare myself with Plato! – monologism, univocity, a single voice – is impossible, and plurivocity is a non-fictional necessity, a necessity that I put to work in a fictional fashion of course but that is not feigned…

Jacques Derrida, 2004 conversation with Hélène Cixous

More than one, it is necessary to be more than one to speak, several voices are necessary for that…

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