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date: 22 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The “animal question” stands at the center of contemporary debates over modern subjectivity and its deconstruction. Taking as a point of departure the references made by Jacques Derrida to Montaigne’s defense of animals in the “Apology for Raymond Sebond”, this article seeks to demonstrate the fundamental differences separating the projects of these two thinkers. For Derrida, the animal presents itself to the human subject as a figure of radical alterity, precluding any attempts at establishing a homogeneous continuity. While challenging the dogmatic rationalist presumption to know the “internal impulses” of the animals, Montaigne for his part emphasizes the homogeneity of animal and human behaviors and the natural kinship uniting mankind with the animals. The animal represents for man a model of self-appropriation, appropriation to one’s “ordinary” condition and to one’s body. Thus, we find thus more continuities than a radical conflict between Montaigne and the “modern” rationalist tradition.

Keywords: Montaigne, animals, anthropocentrism, Derrida, nature, reason, body, “Apology for Raymond Sebond, ” subjectivity, dogma

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