one. The Inhuman in the Humanities
1. Derrida’s The Animal That Therefore I Am provides a moving testament to the
intimate connectedness of man (this man at any rate) and the various and
multiple worlds of animals. Derrida makes it apparent how much has been
conceptually invested in ensuring that we, the all-too-human, are not cast into
this animal world as one among many, but only as the one who rules, the one
who need not know, and does what he can not to know, what the animal shares
with all that is living—what it feels, acts, su√ers: ‘‘The question is not to know
whether the animal can think, reason, or speak, etc., something we still pretend
to be asking ourselves (from Aristotle to Descartes, from Descartes, especially,
to Heidegger, Levinas, and Lacan, and this question determines so many oth-
ers concerning power or capability [pouvoirs] and attributes [avoirs]; being able,
having the power or capability to give, to die, to bury one’s dead, to dress, to
work, to invent a technique, etc., a power that consists in having such and such
a faculty, such and such a capability, as an essential attribute. . . . The first and
decisive question would rather be to know whether animals can su√er’’ (27).
2. Freud well understood the a√ront to the primacy of consciousness that science
o√ered, seeing his own revelation of the unconscious as the third and most
decisive blow to human self-conception:
In the course of centuries the naïve self-love of men has had to submit to
two major blows at the hands of science. The first was when they learnt
that our earth was not the centre of the universe but only a tiny fragment
of a cosmic system of scarcely imaginable vastness. This is associated in
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