“the animal”

Derrida’s starting point is that every clear and general differentiation between humans and “the animal” in the history of philosophy (from Aristotle to Heidegger, Lacan, and Levinas) should be deconstructed: what really authorizes us to say that only humans speak, while animals merely emit signs; that only humans respond, while animals merely react; that only humans experience things “as such,” while animals are just captivated by their life world; that only humans can feign to feign, while animals just directly feign; that only humans are mortal, experience death, while animals just die; or that animals enjoy a harmonious sexual relationship of instinctual mating, while for humans, il n’y a pas de rapport sexuel; and so on and so forth? Derrida displays here the best of what we cannot but call the “common sense of deconstruction,” asking naïve questions which undermine philosophical propositions taken for granted for centuries. What, for example, allows Lacan to claim with such self-confidence, without providing any data or arguments, that animals cannot feign to feign? What allows Heidegger to claim as a self-evident fact that animals do not relate to their death? As Derrida emphasizes again and again, the point of this questioning is not to cancel the gap that separates man from (other) animals and attribute also to (other) animals properly “spiritual” properties―the path taken by some eco-mystics who claim that not only animals, but even trees and plants communicate in a language of their own to which we humans are deaf. The point is rather that all these differences should be re-thought and conceived in a different way, multiplied, “thickened”―and the first step on this path is to denounce the all-encompassing category of “the animal.”

text: http://simongros0.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/slavoj-zizek-the-animal-that-i-am/

clip: http://www.theonion.com/video/scientists-successfully-teach-gorilla-it-will-die,17165/

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