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"One Nation … Indivisible": Jacques Derrida on the Autoimmunity of Democracy and the Sovereignty of God

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During the final decade of his life, Jacques Derrida came to use the trope of autoimmunity with greater and greater frequency. Indeed it today appears that autoimmunity was to have been the last iteration of what for more than forty years Derrida called deconstruction. This essay looks at the consequences of this terminological shift for our understanding not only of Derrida's final works (such as Rogues) but of his entire corpus. By taking up a term from the biological sciences that describes the process by which an organism turns in quasi-suicidal fashion against its own self-protection, Derrida was able to rethink the very notion of life otherwise and demonstrate the way in which every sovereign identity, from the self to the nation-state to, most provocatively, God, is open to a process that both threatens to destroy it and gives it its only chance of living on.

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/content/journals/10.1163/156916406779165818
2006-11-01
2015-08-02

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