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The Animal That Therefore I Am Paperback – Apr 29 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press; Third Edition edition (April 29 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082322791X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823227914
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 1.5 x 15 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #117,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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About the Author

The late Jacques Derrida was the single most influential voice in European philosophy of the last quarter of the twentieth century. His Sovereignties in Question and Deconstruction in a Nutshell have been published by Fordham University Press. Marie-Louise Mallet has been a Program Director at the College International de Philosophie and was the organizer of three of the four Derrida Cerisy conferences. She is author of La Musique en respect and is the editor of the special edition of Les Cahiers de l'Herne on Derrida. David Wills is Professor of French and English at the University at Albany, SUNY. His most recent book is a volume of essays on the work of Derrida, Matchbook: Essays in Deconstruction.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
A great (unfinished) work June 22 2008
By Mike - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book assembles the entirety of Derrida's 1997 Cerisy address on the topic of that conference (dedicated to discussing his work) "The Autobiographical Animal." That said, it still remains an unbelievable unfinished work. While humorously (and seriously) talking about a cat seeing him naked in the morning in the bathroom, or watching a TV show on a cat, or entering the bedroom while Derrida is with a woman, Derrida outlines the paths along which he might problematize the philosophical (and common-sense) regard for the animal--paths that one can plainly see would have been followed (or, at least, outlined) more extensively in a fuller, lengthier discussion (especially with respect to Heidegger). Nevertheless, Derrida here accomplishes almost too much, giving one a feel for the immensity of the problem of animality within our discourses while at the same time actually modifying elements of those discourses along immensely interesting lines. Those familiar with Derrida's corpus will find many issues or half-thoughts made elsewhere elucidated here--most notably those regarding mechanization or technology, autobiography, sex (both in terms of the erotic act and sexual difference) and life (all somewhat intertwined through a discussion of Descartes' animal-machine)--while one can imagine those more unfamiliar (or those only familiar with *either* the "early" Derrida or the "late" "ethical" Derrida) would find much of interest: keeping with the autobiographical theme of the conference, Derrida recalls much of his corpus and relates what is going on here quite explicitly to all of it. Those also interested in Descartes, Levinas, Heidegger and Lacan (there is an amazing discussion of the mirror stage and the odd "pigeon gonad" passage, and the entire text can be said to be a reading of Lacan's "Subversion of the Subject and Dialectic of Desire") will find this volume really worthwhile.
Two portions of this work have appeared before, but the crucial middle section has not been published. Also included is the wonderful semi-impromptu follow-up, which alone is worth the price of the book. After about nine hours, the address was not able to get to all the issues related to Heidegger. After he was begged for more, Derrida again took the stage at the end of the conference and outlined (though it is extensive in its detail) a reading of Heidegger's (extremely interesting) seminar, *The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics.* Again, this alone is worth the price of the book: engaged, entertaining, somewhat off the cuff, with even more of the surprising and wonderful vitality that pervades the rest of his written out address, what is said here is as pertinent as it is profound.
David Wills', it should be said, also makes an excellent translation--even better than his rendering of *The Gift of Death.* All in all, a great troubler for the set of stagnant interpretations of Derrida here in America: like *On Touching,* Derrida returns to odd issues somewhat more at home in the old phenomenological tradition, but with many twists gained from his extensive forays into issues of writing and his more recent work on ethics or religion. A major work, which should sit alongside some of his more famous volumes: one that--and that this is not at all a fault or even something to regret testifies to the achievement of Derrida and the tenacity of his thought here--would have been (and, in a way, will be) enriched even further with time.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
For the philosophical animal lover Dec 21 2010
By threezees - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is among my first experiences with Derrida, and it has forever changed the way I view animal cruelty and the animal- human relationship. Derrida is brilliant. It's easy to feel privileged with the companionship of his thoughts and deconstruction of the philosophies of Descartes, Heidegger, and Lacan among others. We have gone from the traditional image of philosopher with dog at his feet to philosopher stark naked and vulnerable before his cat. It is an illuminating read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Philosopher Of And For The Animal Oct. 24 2012
By philosophy1 - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very much enjoyed reading the above three reviews and, of course, The Animal That Therefore I Am; and there is More To Follow in every sense that Darrida meant, including those thinkers who may have the courage to follow through the doors Derrida has opened with an open mind and accept the challenges that he has made to so much of our western philosophical traditions; Derrida's "deconstructing" offers an enormous breath of fresh air vis-a-vis all those dogmas we have so long taken for granted and for which our animals continue to suffer from to this day.
another Derrida! May 28 2014
By Glen A. Mazis - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not really--most of his themes are here, too--but it is a more passionate, more straightforward Derrida than many of his works--he really cares about animals and his anger at the history of Western philosophy for giving the foundations for this "genocide" against animals is palpable--one of my favorite books that I found my students loved, too--and they did not have a strong background in philosophy.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By barryb - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How are we to define the “self” as “subject” if we ignore “spiritual-seeing” and “spiritual-hearing”?
There is more to humanity than the cognitive and the construction of rational propositions. There is a more primitive dimension that also defines us. This dimension speaks to us in an unknown grammar, one that appears to the Hupakouo attribute of the “psyche” who possesses the right perspective or “stance”. Of course, this is the concern of phenomenology in the first place; and the concern of post-modern thought. It is time to re-acquaint ourselves with the “Animot-voice” of the animal-other.
In 10 days at a conference held at the Cerisy Cultural Center in Lasalle, France Derrida did just that. This is his treatise of “awakening”; his plea for a new “auto-biography”, one that will give the animal-monster, that currently exists in the world, a “new name”.


Derrida proposes a triad with regard to his approach. We could call this his “triad-of-Hupakouo”; a new LOGOS. Its parts: 1. the “being-after” of the self as a state of latency with regard to this quest for auto-bio definition. This is the self of shame and impropriety, and under the gaze of the interrogating animal-other. 2. The “being-alongside” marks a transition of the self where self enters the role of “negation” and negating the “monstrous animal”; and positing instead the “theoretical animal-other”. But discernment is still missing here. The self needs dialogue to get past this “lack” with regard to auto-biography. 3. The “being-near” of the self recognizes the role that ”Hupakouo” plays at the level of “presentation” concerning the “other” and “listening” with regard to the transcendentally intuitive “psyche”. Self and animal can co-exist in dialectic.

This is the same Derrida of the “phenomenology-of-writing”; therefore, we should recognize that the “PRAXIS” of all this is the positing of a written “zoo-to-biographical sketch”. This is a sketch of relation between the “I” of the self and the history of the “animal-as-concept”. We will enlist the attestation, argument, and proof of our recalled “auto-bio memory” as the apologetic accompanying proclamation; to help empower this PRAXIS.

The “notion” of this praxis-positing is formed through a process Derrida calls: “Limitophy”; which is a deconstruction of the false-singularity of “animal” currently in existence, coupled with re-interpreting the limit-point of our situation in a way that is “non-linear”. And the “cultivation” of the results of dialogue at the conversation-threshold with other selves involved in the process of forming a new name for animal. Cultivation takes place under the critique of a posited 3rd party called “Universality”.

Give yourself the benefit of reading this manuscript slowly; it is rich in content and addresses Derrida’s fundamental position in a way that centers on ”listening”. We are never so well advanced that we cannot learn new ways to awaken our spiritual listening.
5 stars for this 10-day conference.