The Animal That Therefore I Am by David Wills
(Perspectives in Continental Philosophy (Hardcover Unnumbered))

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Synopsis

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.
 

About David Wills

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Jacques Derrida was born in Algeria in 1930. His works of philosophy and linguistics form the basis of the school of criticism known as deconstruction. This theory states that language is an inadequate method to give an unambiguous definition of a work, as the meaning of text can differ depending on reader, time, and context. His De la Grammatologie (1967, published as Of Grammatology in 1976), is the most formal known statement of his theory. He further demonstrates this theory in his book Glas (1974, translated to English in 1986). Jacques Derrida lives in Paris and teaches at the Ecole Normale Superieure. His awards include honorary doctorates form Columbia (1980), the University of Louvain (1983), and the University of Essex (1987), and an honorary degree by Cambridge University (1992), which was publicly contested, adding to his already controversial reputation.
 
Published April 15, 2008 by Fordham University Press. 191 pages
Genres: Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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