The End of the World and Other Teachable Moments: Jacques Derrida's Final Seminar (Perspectives in Continental Philosophy (FUP))
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The End of the World and Other Teachable Moments follows the remarkable itinerary of Jacques Derrida's final seminar, "The Beast and the Sovereign" (2001-3), as the explicit themes of the seminar namely, sovereignty and the question of the animal come to be supplemented and interrupted by questions of death, mourning, survival, the archive, and, especially, the end of the world.
The book begins with Derrida's analyses, in the first year of the seminar, of the question of the animal in the context of his other published works on the same subject. It then follows Derrida through the second year of the seminar, presented in Paris from December 2002 to March 2003, as a very different tone begins to make itself heard, one that wavers between melancholy and an extraordinary lucidity with regard to the end. Focusing the entire year on just two works, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and Martin Heidegger's seminar of 1929-30, "The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics," the seminar comes to be dominated by questions of the end of the world and of an originary violence that at once gives rise to and effaces all things.
The End of the World and Other Teachable Moments follows Derrida as he responds from week to week to these emerging questions, as well as to important events unfolding around him, both world events the aftermath of 9/11, the American invasion of Iraq and more personal ones, from the death of Maurice Blanchot to intimations of his own death less than two years away. All this, the book concludes, makes this final seminar an absolutely unique work in Derrida's corpus, one that both speaks of death as the end of the world and itself now testifies to that end just one, though hardly the least, of its many teachable moments.
only human Dasein would have full access, then what is it and what assures its unity? This is where Derrida turns to his second and third theses, which he begins developing more or less as he did in the very first session but which soon “If you could take just two books . . .” ■ 55 take on a force and a pathos they did not have earlier and perhaps could not have had before the start just a few days before of another world war. He begins: Of course, one can always question the supposed unity
of Isaac, God of Jacob,” an address that is itself a quotation from Exodus and from Matthew. Now, in “Justices,” the essay written, recall, for J. Hillis Miller in spring 2003, Derrida again turns to Pascal’s prayer and to the unique performative gesture that consists in quoting a prayer— emphasizing, this time, another biblical quotation and another aspect of such quotation. Derrida writes: “In his famous Mémorial, the little paper found after his death that had been sewn into his garment eight
sovereignty with the spiritual and this spiritual sovereignty with poetry, and particularly German poetry, that is, rather than pursue the Auseinandersetzung of Of Spirit, Derrida comments instead on a gesture of Heidegger’s, that is, on Heidegger’s unique and idiomatic reinscription of Walten in his own writing. “World, Finitude, Solitude” ■ 159 The fold that must be re-marked here is that this poetic and spiritual sovereignty of language, as Heidegger will make clear immediately afterward,
to his or her suffering: the fear he feels or will have felt has now become or is now giving way to the suffering of the other, the suffering he or she will now undergo. As Derrida said during the seminar, “That’s what is meant, has always been meant, by ‘other’ ”—the one who or those who “might survive Désormais ■ 169 me, survive my decease and then proceed as they wish, sovereignly, and sovereignly have at their disposal the future of my remains, if there are any” (BS 2 126–127/188–189).
giving back to the animal what Heidegger says it is deprived of; it would obey the necessity of asking oneself whether man, the human itself, has the ‘as such’ ” (ATT 159– 60). 10. See ATT 94–95, where Derrida rearticulates this strategy with regard to the capacity of the human to refer to itself by means of an autoaffection that would exclude all heteroaffection. 11. Penelope Deutscher and Kelly Oliver are two scholars who have been pursuing this aspect, among others, of Derrida’s seminar. See,