Instituting excesses : the scene of teaching in Descartes, Freud, Hegel and Levinas.
This thesis explores the place and logics of the scene of teaching in the works of four
major thinkers: Descartes, Freud, Hegel and Levinas. More detailed reasons for my choice of
authors, the order in which they are examined and my method of approach are given in the
Introduction. The most general context of the thesis is deconstruction, specifically the texts
of Jacques Derrida, which highlight the complexity of the limit - of the relations between the
"inside" and the "outside" - and which therefore open onto a reorganisation of domains
traditionally held apart and hierarchically structured. Specifically, the thesis sets out to
explore the scene of teaching "in" the works of these thinkers, and argues that the scene of
teaching can be coherently placed neither within, nor as an empirical outside of the domain of
philosophy. "Philosophy" is understood here as the thought of auto-institution or autoformation,
in which the alterity of teaching is either absorbed or excluded as a contingency;
this "definition" is explained and justified in the course of the thesis.
The thesis is divided into four chapters, one for each of the thinkers above. My readings
show that the logic of teaching in each of the four thinkers is aporetic, and the thesis
demonstrates that these aporias settle into a coherent schema.
The thesis argues that the systematic emergence of these aporias across this range of
texts signals an excess of the scene of teaching, as instituting scene, over the logic of
institution or foundation provided by the texts studied. This excess takes on specific forms in
each of the thinkers researched, but I demonstrate that in each case it is a question of an
originary involvement of ethico-political stakes in the domain of philosophy, an involvement
which cannot be situated as derived or contingent.
The thesis does not examine theories or philosophies of teaching; nor does it focus on or
develop a particular theory or practice of teaching. It is concerned, rather, to address the
scene of teaching "in" the texts of these thinkers, without presupposing its proper site, nor
the scope of its "illogical" effects.