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Nature's Metabolism: On Eating in Derrida, Agamben, and Spinoza

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This article studies a series of provocative references to Spinoza by Jacques Derrida and Giorgio Agamben. For both contemporary philosophers, the context is discussions of eating, a subject matter that turns out to involve such central issues as subjectivity, nature, ethics, and teleology. Each situates Spinoza in a counter-history of philosophy and suggests that Spinoza constitutes an important resource for contemporary reflections. Through an analysis of the three philosophers' texts about eating, nutrition, and being metabolized, I argue that Spinoza's nonteleological, nonhumanistic conception of nature remains a radical possibility, even in the face of contemporary attempts to think outside the canonical discourses of transcendental subjectivity, technological reason, and teleological ethics. Spinoza's position is, in the end, more uncompromising than that of Derrida or Agamben.

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