chapter  4
42 Pages

: Subjectilities

In “The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow),” Derrida poses the question of how a human being might be encountered or regarded by an animal, since philosophers have always assumed that animals cannot recognize humans in Hegelian or Lévinasian terms. “How can an animal look you in the face? That will be one of our concerns” (2002a, 377). Then, too, from a Heideggerian perspective, Derrida wonders how Mitsein (or being-with) could be conceptualized if one thought of it in terms of one’s being in the presence of one’s cat, an example Derrida addresses at some length. Does one come alongside, near, or after the animal? What sort of proximity or being-with would we be talking about in relation to the animal? Would we be talking about “being-pressed, the being-with as being strictly attached, bound, enchained, being-under-pressure, compressed, impressed, repressed . . . ” (380)? The list destabilizes biblical, classical, and scientific assumptions about how “man” comes after the animal, as if man were to be defined as that latecomer (creationist or evolutionary, it

doesn’t matter) whose historical position is constitutive of his essence, which he himself defines as a superiority to what is “animal.”