Derrida on the Animal as the Absolute Other

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Tonight I began reading Derrida’s work The Animal That Therefore I Am. Like so much of Derrida it’s insightful and witty. This quote especially grabbed my attention.

“The animal is there before me, there next to me, there in front of me – I who am (following) after it. And also, therefore, since it is before me, it is behind me. It surrounds me. And from the vantage of this being-there-before-me it can allow itself to be looked at, no doubt, but also – something that philosophy perhaps forget, perhaps being this calculated forgetting itself – it can look at me. It has its point of view regarding me. The point of view of the absolute other, and nothing will have ever given me more food for thinking through the absolute alterity of the neighbor or of the next(-door) than these moments when I see myself seen naked under the gaze of a cat” (The Animal That Therefore I Am, 11).

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2 Responses to “Derrida on the Animal as the Absolute Other”

  1. Dave Mesing Says:

    The Open is another good book on this subject. I drew on both that and Derrida a good bit for one section in my lit theory paper this semester. I think that The Animal is some of the most readable Derrida that I’ve seen (I have a favorable disposition to him, but sometimes the reading is a slogging).

  2. Jeremy Says:

    You know I’ve had the same experience. I’ve found it such an enjoyable, easy read. It’s a tad more readable than Of Grammatology.

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