Feline Divinanimality: Derrida and the Discourse of Species in Genesis

Matthew Chrulew

Abstract


Jacques Derrida’s most sustained intervention in questions of human-animal relations, ‘The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow)’, seeks to recast the relation of Western subjectivity to the animal Other(s) on whose sacrifice it has hinged. In particular, Derrida offers an insightful reading of the early chapters of Genesis, a central text for the construction of Judaeo-Christian species humanism, which intertwines thematically with the autobiographical scene he insistently evokes of being seen naked by his cat. As opposed to the logic of the fall, which marks humanity’s uniqueness and dominance, Derrida seeks to tie his cat’s gaze to the story of Adam’s prelapsarian naming of the animals in Genesis 2:19-20. Derrida interrupts the scene to transpose the curious and finite gaze of God onto his responding cat’s otherness. But beyond this domesticated relationship, the text of Genesis itself suggests a more radical relation to animals ultimately identifiable with Derrida’s own insistence on unconditional obligation.

Keywords


Jacques Derrida; Genesis 2; cat

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Bible and Critical Theory: ISSN 1832-3391