The Beast and the Sovereign: Volume 2

University of Chicago Press
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Following on from The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume I, this book extends Jacques Derrida’s exploration of the connections between animality and sovereignty. In this second year of the seminar, originally presented in 2002–2003 as the last course he would give before his death, Derrida focuses on two markedly different texts: Heidegger’s 1929–1930 course The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics, and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. As he moves back and forth between the two works, Derrida pursuesthe relations between solitude, insularity, world, violence, boredom and death as they supposedly affect humans and animals in different ways. Hitherto unnoticed or underappreciated aspects of Robinson Crusoe are brought out in strikingly original readings of questions such as Crusoe’s belief in ghosts, his learning to pray, his parrot Poll, and his reinvention of the wheel. Crusoe’s terror of being buried alive or swallowed alive by beasts or cannibals gives rise to a rich and provocative reflection on death, burial, and cremation, in part provoked by a meditation on the death of Derrida’s friend Maurice Blanchot. Throughout, these readings are juxtaposed with interpretations of Heidegger's concepts of world and finitude to produce a distinctively Derridean account that will continue to surprise his readers.
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About the author

Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) was director of studies at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, and professor of humanities at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of many books published by the University of Chicago Press. Geoffrey Bennington is Asa G. Candler Professor of Modern French Thought at Emory University and the author of numerous works, including Interrupting Derrida.

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Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Sep 15, 2011
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780226144405
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / General
Philosophy / Movements / Deconstruction
Philosophy / Political
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This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The Animal That Therefore I Am is the long-awaited translation of the complete text of Jacques Derrida's ten-hour address to the 1997 Crisy conference entitled The Autobiographical Animal, the third of four such colloquia on his work. The book was assembled posthumously on the basis of two published sections, one written and recorded session, and one informal recorded session. The book is at once an affectionate look back over the multiple roles played by animals in Derrida's work and a profound philosophical investigation and critique of the relegation of animal life that takes place as a result of the distinction-dating from Descartes-between man as thinking animal and every other living species. That starts with the very fact of the line of separation drawn between the human and the millions of other species that are reduced to a single the animal.Derrida finds that distinction, or versions of it, surfacing in thinkers as far apart as Descartes, Kant, Heidegger, Lacan, and Levinas, and he dedicates extended analyses tothe question in the work of each of them.The book's autobiographical theme intersects with its philosophical analysis through the figures of looking and nakedness, staged in terms of Derrida's experience when his cat follows him into the bathroom in the morning. In a classic deconstructive reversal, Derrida asks what this animal sees and thinks when it sees this naked man. Yet the experiences of nakedness and shame also lead all the way back into the mythologies of man's dominion over the beastsand trace a history of how man has systematically displaced onto the animal his own failings or btises. The Animal That Therefore I Am is at times a militant plea and indictment regarding, especially, the modern industrialized treatment of animals. However, Derrida cannot subscribe to a simplistic version of animal rights that fails to follow through, in all its implications, the questions and definitions of lifeto which he returned in much of his later work.
Contents• Shibboleth: For Paul Celan• “A Self-Unsealing Poetic Text”: Poetics and Politics of Witnessing• Language Does Not Belong: An Interview• The Majesty of the Present: Reading Celan’s “The Meridian”• Rams: Uninterrupted Dialogue—between Two Infinities, the PoemThis book brings together five powerful encounters. Themes central to all ofDerrida’s writings thread the intense confrontation between the most famousphilosopher of our time and the Jewish poet writing in German who, perhapsmore powerfully than any other, has testified to the European experience ofthe twentieth century.They include the date or signature and its singularity; the notion of the trace;temporal structures of futurity and the “to come”; the multiplicity of languageand questions of translation; such speech acts as testimony and promising, butalso lying and perjury; the possibility of the impossible; and, above all, the questionof the poem as addressed and destined beyond knowledge, seeking to speak toand for the irreducibly other.The memory of encounters with thinkers who have also engaged Celan’s workanimates these writings, which include a brilliant dialogue between twointerpretative modes—hermeneutics and deconstruction. Derrida’s approach toa poem is a revelation on many levels, from the most concrete ways of reading—for example, his analysis of a sequence of personal pronouns—to the mostsweeping imperatives of human existence (and Derrida’s writings are alwaysa study in the imbrication of such levels). Above all, he voices the call toresponsibility in the ultimate line of Celan’s poem: “The world is gone,I must carry you,” which sounds throughout the book’s final essay like a refrain. Only two of the texts in this volume do not appear here in English for the first time. Of these, Schibboleth has been entirely retranslated and has been set following Derrida's own instructions for publication in French; "A Self-Unsealing Poetic Text" was substantially rewritten by Derrida himself and basically appears here as the translation of a new text. Jacques Derrida’s most recent books in English translation include Counterpath: Traveling with Jacques Derrida (with Catherine Malabou). He died in Paris on October 8, 2004. Thomas Dutoit teaches at the Université de Paris 7. He translated Aporias and edited On the Name, both by Jacques Derrida.
The Animal That Therefore I Am is the long-awaited translation of the complete text of Jacques Derrida's ten-hour address to the 1997 Cérisy conference entitled "The Autobiographical Animal," the third of four such colloquia on his work. The book was assembled posthumously on the basis of two published sections, one written and recorded session, and one informal recorded session.

The book is at once an affectionate look back over the multiple roles played by animals in Derrida's work and a profound philosophical investigation and critique of the relegation of animal life that takes place as a result of the distinction--dating from Descartes--between man as thinking animal and every other living species. That starts with the very fact of the line of separation drawn between the human and the millions of other species that are reduced to a single "the animal." Derrida finds that distinction, or versions of it, surfacing in thinkers as far apart as Descartes, Kant, Heidegger, Lacan, and Levinas, and he dedicates extended analyses to
the question in the work of each of them.

The book's autobiographical theme intersects with its philosophical analysis through the figures of looking and nakedness, staged in terms of Derrida's experience when his cat follows him into the bathroom in the morning. In a classic deconstructive reversal, Derrida asks what this animal sees and thinks when it sees this naked man. Yet the experiences of nakedness and shame also lead all the way back into the mythologies of "man's dominion over the beasts" and trace a history of how man has systematically displaced onto the animal his own failings or bêtises.

The Animal That Therefore I Am is at times a militant plea and indictment regarding, especially, the modern industrialized treatment of animals. However, Derrida cannot subscribe to a simplistic version of animal rights that fails to follow through, in all its implications, the questions and definitions of "life" to which he returned in much of his later work.

Few philosophers held greater fascination for Jacques Derrida than Martin Heidegger, and in this book we get an extended look at Derrida’s first real encounters with him. Delivered over nine sessions in 1964 and 1965 at the École Normale Supérieure, these lectures offer a glimpse of the young Derrida first coming to terms with the German philosopher and his magnum opus, Being and Time. They provide not only crucial insight into the gestation of some of Derrida’s primary conceptual concerns—indeed, it is here that he first uses, with some hesitation, the word “deconstruction”—but an analysis of Being and Time that is of extraordinary value to readers of Heidegger or anyone interested in modern philosophy.

Derrida performs an almost surgical reading of the notoriously difficult text, marrying pedagogical clarity with patient rigor and acting as a lucid guide through the thickets of Heidegger’s prose. At this time in intellectual history, Heidegger was still somewhat unfamiliar to French readers, and Being and Time had only been partially translated into French. Here Derrida mostly uses his own translations, giving his own reading of Heidegger that directly challenges the French existential reception initiated earlier by Sartre. He focuses especially on Heidegger’s Destruktion (which Derrida would translate both into “solicitation” and “deconstruction”) of the history of ontology, and indeed of ontology as such, concentrating on passages that call for a rethinking of the place of history in the question of being, and developing a radical account of the place of metaphoricity in Heidegger’s thinking.

This is a rare window onto Derrida’s formative years, and in it we can already see the philosopher we’ve come to recognize—one characterized by a bravura of exegesis and an inventiveness of thought that are particularly and singularly his.
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