Graduate studies at Western
Southern Journal of Philosophy 50:95-106 (2012)
|Abstract||This paper responds to Kelly Oliver's “See Topsy ‘Ride the Lightning’: The Scopic Machinery of Death” by questioning the presuppositions and implications of her discussion of the spectacle of elephant executions and their relation to Derrida's writings about animals and the death penalty. This paper proposes to reframe the approach to Derrida's reflections on the death penalty and its problematic relation to the category of the human by focusing on the double function of the concept of the scaffold in his writings. Rather than looking at it as a spectacle or as an object for visual studies, I show that the scaffold is a paradoxical concept and has a double (and duplicitous) function in the conceptual founding of human law and human rights, as it is both the architectonic philosophical principle of the rational executive function of the law and the name for the purely mechanical technological machine that carries out the death penalty. In either case, however, the scaffold serves as a nonhuman prosthetic without which the concept of a just and humane and properly “human” law is shown to be untenable|
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