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“The Last Refuge of the Scoundrel”: Debating between History and Theory


  • This version of the text is deeply indebted to both its anonymous reviewers, to whom I would express my necessarily asymmetrical gratitude, for what I can only describe as a pure gift.


When “History” is called to represent silence, its metaphysical position is symptomatically felt. Tracing what Fasolt calls “the historian's revolt”, this paper identifies the political impetus behind it as the symptom dictating Foucault's own silences/silencings (regarding Derrida's intervention in his History of Madness). In naming such a symptom/silence – in taking “Derrida's position” – this paper performs its own violence/decision by, both “justifying,” and betraying, this position; by installing itself in, instead of “above,” this curious “debate”. “The last refuge of the scoundrel” appears then as the reflective exteriority of a political antagonism that's based on a metaphysical difference with regards to the legitimate “seat” of authority (in Fasolt, an antagonism between the historian and the Catholic Church). Finally, this trajectory is installed within a wider – metaphysical and historical – context, where Hegel's famous saying, that the University is the Protestant's Church, might yet echo that distant metaphysical decision – still looming, like a “genealogical specter,” over Academia and its Social Sciences.