I'm a newcomer to philosophy, I've been recently introduced by the vector of an English course.

In studying various works, I'm having particular difficulty with the following statement from Derrida's Aporias: Dying—Awaiting (One Another at) the "Limits of Truth", pages 65 and 66, which appears, in quoted form, in some of our study material:

In order to wait for the other at this meeting place, one must, on the contrary, arrive there late, not early.

I've tried to uncover the meaning here, but I'm struggling to make sense of what this is saying. I'd be very grateful if someone could explain (in the simplest terms possible) what this is about.

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    Would you have a page number for the Derrida quote? This would just help someone find the quote if they have a paper copy. I do see it on Internet Archive: archive.org/details/GiftDeath.TheJacquesDerrida/page/n1 Welcome to this SE! – Frank Hubeny Nov 21 '18 at 13:27
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    I realize that the quote comes from study material so you wouldn't know where it is in the original. You might ask this from your instructor. I couldn't find the quote in the translation on Internet Archive. Perhaps others would be able to. Hopefully someone has an answer. – Frank Hubeny Nov 21 '18 at 14:10
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    Hello Frank, thank you for replying. My apologies; I was led to believe that the quoted portion appeared originally in The Gift of Death, but I must belatedly correct this. The material we're studying is from Derrida's later lecture-cum-essay Aporias: Dying—Awaiting (One Another at) the "Limits of Truth", specifically pages 65 and 66 – AMarch Nov 22 '18 at 4:13
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    I edited the incorrect reference, you can of course revert or continue editing by using the 'edit' button at the bottom of the post. And welcome! – christo183 Nov 23 '18 at 8:28
  • christo183 Thank you for doing that for me! – AMarch Nov 23 '18 at 13:40

In order to wait for the other at this meeting place, one must, on the contrary, arrive there late, not early.

This is tied into the French pronominal verb, s'attendre (to expect) which Derrida is making much of here.

"one expects it" - "on s'y attend" - one self-awaits it

One awaits one's late self : one expects death.

Further, one's manifest non-existence (death) can only arrive after one's manifest existence has unwound. Hence the "impossible simultaneity" of the rendezvous. (page 65)

  • Thank you Chris, that's very helpful. Permit me to attempt to recast this segment according to my limited and rather fey understanding of things. First, a summary. EDIT: I'll have to split this into more than one comment due to the character limit, I hope the posts will appear in "oldest first" order. On page 64 Derrida says: "One simply awaits oneself: I await myself, and nothing else; I myself await myself in myself; and this is the most identifiable and most identifying self-relation, i.e., the ego's memory or promise of itself". – AMarch Nov 23 '18 at 13:36
  • Skipping ahead to page 65 he states: "awaiting oneself... can have a notable relation to death (it is there, and maybe only there, that one ultimately awaits oneself or expects, that one expects that; and it is only there that the awaiting oneself may be no other than the expecting the other, or that the other may arrive)" A little further down he says: "we can wait for each other ... when the waiting for each other is related to death, to the borders of death ... the one is waiting for the other there" – AMarch Nov 23 '18 at 13:37
  • And then towards the bottom of page 65 and leading into 66 he says: "Both the one and the other never arrive together at this rendezvous, and the one who waits for the other there, at this border, is not he who arrives there first or she who gets there first. In order to wait for the other at this meeting place, one must, on the contrary, arrive there late, not early." Taking these statements together, along with the information you have provided, I'm interpreting this as follow: – AMarch Nov 23 '18 at 13:37
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    @AMarch Sounds about right, but as Derrida says "the untranslatability of the idiom" (page 64) complicates what is probably clearer in French. – Chris Degnen Nov 23 '18 at 15:14
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    @AMarch I asked a professional linguist about this verb, s’attendre. She said ‘se’ is used more as an intensifier on some verbs, (in Spanish also). So to expect is an intensification of to await. Derrida’s use of the reflexive sense: to self-await, is somewhat playing around with language. – Chris Degnen Nov 26 '18 at 17:40

I tried to search the portion on the Internet; but couldn't. So the only statement with me is the quote you posted from that book. I think that is about a 'bizarre' meeting place. So, to guess the meaning, please refer the preceding statements and try to understand whether there things work in the reverse order...or the person who reached there early loses something (or gets less time) and the person who reached there late gains something (or gets more time). Whatever it is this will help you to reach close to the meaning. So I think this might help you to understand the meaning.

  • Thank you SonOfThought, I made the task unnecessarily difficult by giving the wrong essay title, and including an inadequately short context segment, but I'm very grateful for your efforts and appreciate the suggestion. – AMarch Nov 23 '18 at 13:40

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