Khôra is a philosophical term described by Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 in Timaeus
Timaeus (dialogue)
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. It is followed by the dialogue Critias.Speakers of the dialogue are Socrates,...

as a receptacle, a space, or an interval. It is neither being nor nonbeing but an interval between in which the "forms" were originally held. Khôra "gives space" and has maternal overtones (a womb, matrix).

Key authors addressing "khôra" include Heidegger who refers to a "clearing" in which being happens or takes place (Nader El-Bizri
Nader El-Bizri
Nader El-Bizri is a Lebanese philosopher, historian of science, and architect living in Britain.-Intellectual Profile:...

, 2001, 2004). Julia Kristeva deploys the term as part of her analysis of the difference between the semiotic and symbolic realms, in that Plato's concept of "khora" is said to anticipate the emancipatory employment of semiotic activity as a way of evading the allegedly phallocentric character of symbolic activity (signification through language), which, following Lacan, is regarded as an inherently limiting and oppressive form of praxis. More recently, Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher, born in French Algeria. He developed the critical theory known as deconstruction and his work has been labeled as post-structuralism and associated with postmodern philosophy...

 uses "khôra" to name a radical otherness that "gives place" for being. For Derrida, "khôra" defies attempts at naming or either/or logic which he attempts to "deconstruct" (see deconstruction
Deconstruction is a term introduced by French philosopher Jacques Derrida in his 1967 book Of Grammatology. Although he carefully avoided defining the term directly, he sought to apply Martin Heidegger's concept of Destruktion or Abbau, to textual reading...


Following Derrida, John Caputo describes khôra as:

neither present nor absent, active or passive, the good nor evil, living nor nonliving - but rather atheological and nonhuman - khôra is not even a receptacle. Khôra has no meaning or essence, no identity to fall back upon. She/it receives all without becoming anything, which is why she/it can become the subject of neither a philosopheme nor mytheme. In short, the khôra is tout autre [fully other], very
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