Deconstruction cannot propose an ethics. If the concept — all the concepts — of ethics come to us, as they do, as they cannot fail to, from the tradition it has become commonplace to call ‘Western metaphysics’, and if, as Derrida announces from the start, deconstruction aims to deconstruct ‘the greatest totality’,1 the interrelated network of concepts bequeathed to us by and as that metaphysics, then ‘ethics’ cannot fail to be a theme and an object of deconstruction, to be deconstructed, rather than a subject of its admiration or affirmation. Ethics is metaphysical through and through and can therefore never simply be assumed or affirmed in deconstruction. The demand or desire for a ‘deconstructive ethics’ is in this sense doomed to be disappointed.
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