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Derrida’s Flair (For the Animals to Follow...)

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image of Research in Phenomenology

This essay traces the history of Jacques Derrida’s engagement with the question of the animal and the methodology Derrida follows in his 2008 The Animal That Therefore I Am. As Derrida demonstrates, the history of philosophy is marked from its inception by an attempt to draw a single, indivisible line between humans and all other animals by attributing some capacity to humans (e.g., language, culture, mourning, a relationship to death) and denying it to animals. Derrida thus begins by questioning the supposed fact that animals do not have such and such a capacity or attribute but then quickly turns to questioning the principle by which philosophers have claimed that humans do. In all his work on the animal, therefore, Derrida questions the confidence with which humans attribute certain capacities to themselves while denying them to animals, all in the name of a pervasive and yet repressed violence against the animal world.

Affiliations: 1: DePaul University

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2010-06-01
2017-04-28

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