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The Project of "Animalization": Heidegger, Derrida, and a Species' Disavowal

This essay summarizes and analyzes Heidegger and Derrida's attitudes towards the term "animal." Through a linguistic history and philosophical analysis of the term, each attempts to find the line which distinguishes man from animal. While Heidegger believes he can articulate it, Derrida argues that no such division exists.

language english
wordcount 3003 (cca 8.5 pages)
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Preview of the essay: The Project of "Animalization": Heidegger, Derrida, and a Species' Disavowal

The Project of “Animalization”: Heidegger, Derrida and a Species’s Disavowal Introduction Many philosophers have tried to locate the distinction between Man and Animal in a property or set of properties, such as self-consciousness, language, use of tools, a sense of aesthetics, and so on. Heidegger’s discussion is distinct from earlier theories in that he does not think this distinction is reduceable to a “property,” but is revealed in our complex relationship with the world. Derrida, however, chooses to trace the origins of the very question: “What distinguishes us from animals?” In so doing, he refocuses the inquiry away from this question (almost laughingly denying its validity), and instead puts the human animal on trial to reveal the deeper motivations at work in what he proposes is a misguided inquiry. In his two essays, “And Say the Animal Responded” and “The Animal That Therefore I Am ...

... our fear of this “other” within ourselves that causes us to disavow the existence of the “other” in the animal. By naming the animal in the mass- singular, we sweepingly declare that the animal is a simple category of which we have perfect understanding and control, due to its simple nature. It is “pure being,” an “animal-machine,” ideas which allow us to disavow the darker, instinctual, unconscious, unknowable animal that resides within ourselves.
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Humanistic Studies


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