Sovereignty’s Ontological Indecision: Derrida and Heidegger on the Other Line (Between the Human and the Animals)


The study of sovereignty, as Derrida implies, is a branch of zoology. Throughout The Beast and the Sovereign, the posthumously published lecture notes for seminars that he held between 2001 and 2003, Derrida piles up literary citations, historical references and past philosophical arguments in which sovereignty reveals its animal features. Even if a strain of denunciation runs through this archival material, Derrida’s own interest is not in siding with humanity against the beast and the sovereign: “the question is not that of sovereignty or nonsovereignty but that of the modalities of transfer and division of a sovereignty said to be indivisible—said and supposed to be indivisible but always divisible” (B&S I 291). Sovereignty, in short, is to be deconstructed.

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