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The Verge of Philosophy

The Verge of Philosophy is both an exploration of the limits of philosophy and a memorial for John Sallis’s longtime friend and interlocutor Jacques Derrida. The centerpiece of the book is an extended examination of three sites in Derrida’s thought: his interpretation of Heidegger regarding the privileging of the question; his account of the Platonic figure of the good; and his interpretation of Plato’s discourse on the crucial notion of the chora, the originating space of the universe.

Sallis’s reflections are given added weight—even poignancy—by his discussion of his many public and private philosophical conversations with Derrida over the decades of their friendship. This volume thus simultaneously serves to mourn and remember a friend and to push forward the deeply searching discussions that lie at the very heart of that friendship.

“All of John Sallis’s work is essential, but [this book] in particular is remarkable. . . . Sallis shows better than anyone I have ever read what it means to practice philosophy on the verge.”—Walter Brogan, Villanova University

144 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2007

Philosophy: General Philosophy, History and Classic Works


“Here is another brilliant book by one of our finest philosophers. The Verge of Philosophy continues Sallis’s thoughtful investigations into the Platonic dialogues, now in more explicit dialogue with Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida. In this profound and elegantly crafted work, Sallis extends lines of thinking developed in earlier writings—and the result bristles with scintillating insights.” —Graham Parkes, University of Hawaii

Graham Parkes

“This is a remarkably clear, focused, easily readable and yet deeply profound meditation on the limits of philosophy. Written in rigorous and precise prose, it draws on Sallis’s immense erudition without letting that erudition burden the text. His meditations on philosophy are also put into thoughtful dialogue with his friendship with Derrida, particularly around their respective readings of Plato. Though we have come to expect work like this from Sallis, this text on the limits and origins of philosophy reads like a new beginning.”

Michael Naas, DePaul University

“All of John Sallis’s work is essential, but The Verge of Philosophy in particular is remarkable. It is beautifully written with a mature clarity that belies its immense subtlety. Philosophy itself and the future of philosophy is the main concern, but this is also a book about the politics of music, about whether it is still possible for philosophy to sing and to hear the song of the gods. Sallis shows better than anyone I have read what it means to practice philosophy on the verge and how this might be possible.”

Walter Brogan, Villanova University

"In this brief yet highly engaging book, Sallis examines the limits and purpose of philosophy through the writings of Plato, Martin Heidegger, and longtime friend and interlocutor Jacques Derrida. . . . Sallis has written a unique work that combines philosophical analysis with a heartfelt reflection on his friendship with Derrida."

Library Journal

"A creative, original work of philosophy. Sallis attempts to walk the verge between and among the philosophers Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, and Plato. Although the text is relatively short . . . it is careful, rigorous, and dense, engaging issues that have become the hallmark of Sallis’s creative contribution to philosophy. . . . For those interested in any of the philosophers addressed, this rich book . . . is a pleasure to read."


Table of Contents

1. Plato’s Other Beginning
2. The Place of the Good
3. Last Words: Generosity and Reserve
4. The Politics of Music
5. On the Verge

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