Who Follows Whom? Derrida, Animals and Women

Derrida Today 2 (2):151-165 (2009)
Abstract
In ‘L'Animal que donc je suis’, Derrida analyzes the paradoxical use of discourses on shame and original sin to justify the human domination of other animals. In the absence of any absolute criterion for distinguishing between humans and other animals, human faultiness becomes a sign of our exclusive capacity for self-consciousness, freedom and awareness of mortality. While Derrida's argument is compelling, he neglects to explore the connection between the human domination of animals and the male domination of women. Throughout ‘L'Animal’, Derrida equivocates between ‘man’ and ‘humanity,’ and between the biblical figures of Ish and Adam. In so doing, he repeats a gesture that he himself has insightfully criticized in other philosophers, such as Levinas. By articulating the distinctions that Derrida elides, I suggest a way of reading Genesis which avoids this difficulty, but also continues Derrida's project
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