Substance 48 (2):23-40 (2019)

Robert Briggs
University of Leeds
Of the many moves that Jacques Derrida makes in The Animal That Therefore I Am, one of the most productive and frequently cited is his displacement, after Jeremy Bentham, of reason in favor of suffering as the key question in thinking about animals. For Bentham, Derrida writes, "the question is not to know whether the animal can think, reason, or speak.... The first and decisive question would rather be to know whether animals can suffer". The ethical aura of this gambit is undeniable, particularly when read alongside the book's extended engagement with Levinas, and the corresponding articulation of the question of the animal as a broadening of the concept of alterity. Understandably then, Derrida's turn to...
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