Preface vii
Introduction 1
Jean-Luc Nancy


1 Another Experience of the Question, or Experiencing
the Question Other-Wise 9
Sylviane Agacinski

2 On a Finally Objectless Subject 24
Alain Badiou

3 Citizen Subject 33
Etienne Balibar

4 Who? 58
Maurice Blanchot

5 The Freudian Subject, from Politics to Ethics 61
Mikkel Barch-Jacobsen

6 Voice of Conscience and Call of Being 79
Jean-Franr,;ois Courtine

7 A Philosophical Concept. ... 94
Gilles Deleuze

8 "Eating Well," or the Calculation of the Subject:

An Interview with Jacques Derrida 96

Jacques Derrida

9 Apropos of the "Critique of the Subject" and

of the Critique of this Critique 120

Vincent Descombes

10 Being and the Living 135
Didier Franck

11 Who Comes after the Subject? 148
Gerard Granel

12 The Critique of the Subject 157
Michel Henry

13 Love between Us 167
Luce Irigaray

14 Descartes Entrapped 178
Sarah Ko/man

15 The Response of Ulysses 198
Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe

16 Philosophy and Awakening 206
Emmanuel Levinas

17 Seisus communis: The Subject in statu nascendi 217
Jean-Franr;ois Lyotard

18 L'Interloque 236
Jean-Luc Marion

19 After What 246
Jacques Ranciere

Name Index 253

About the Editors and Contributors 256


"Eating Well," or the
Calculation of the Subject:
An Interview with Jacques Derrida

Jacques Derrida: From your question one might pick out two phrases: first, "Who
comes after the subject?" the "who" perhaps already pointing toward a grammar
that would no longer be subjected to the subject; and, second, "a prevalent discourse
of recent date concludes with its [the subject's] simple liquidation."

Now should we not take an initial precaution with regard to the doxa, which in
a certain way dictates the very formulation of the question? This precaution would
not be a critique. It is no doubt necessary to refer to such a doxa, should it only
be to analyze it and possibly disqualify it. The question "Who comes after the
subject?" (this time I emphasize the "after") implies that for a certain philosophical
opinion today, in its most visible configuration, something named "subject" can be
identified, as its alleged passing might also be identified in certain identifiable
thoughts or discourses. This "opinion" is cohfused. The confusion consists at least
in a clumsy mixing up of a number of discursive strategies. If over the last twenty-
five years in France the most notorious of these strategies have in fact led to a kind
of discussion around "the question of the subject," none of them has sought to
"liquidate" anything (I don't know moreover to what philosophical concept this
word might correspond, a word that I understand more readily in other codes:
finance, crime, terrorism, civil or political criminality; one only speaks of "liquida
tion" therefore from the position of Lhe law, indeed, the police). The diagnostic of
"liquidation" exposes in general an illusion and an offence. It accuses: they tried
to "liquidate," they thought they could do it, we will not let them do it. The
diagnostic implies therefore a promise: we will do justice, we will save or rehabilitate
the subject. A slogan therefore: a return to the subject, the return of the subject.
Furthermore, one would have to ask, to put it very briefly, if the stmcture of every
subject is not constituted in the possibility of this kind of repetition one calls a
return, and more important, if this stmcture is not essentially before the law, the
relation to law and the experience, if there is any, of the law, but let's leave this.

Let's take some examples of this confusion, and also some proper names that might
serve as indices to help us along. Did Lacan "liquidate" the subject? No. The
decentered "subject" of which he speaks certainly doesn't have the traits of the
classical subject (thought even here, we'd have to take a closer look . . .), though
it remains indispensable to the economy of the Lacanian theory. It is also a correlate
of the law.

Jean Luc Nancy: Lacan is perhaps the only one to insist on keeping the name. . .

JD: Perhaps not the only one in fact. We will speak later on about Philippe
Lacoue-Labarthe, but we might note already that Althusser's theory, for example,
seeks to discredit a certain authority of the subject only by acknowledging for the
instance of the "subject" an irreducible place in a theory of ideology, an ideology
that, mutatis mutandis, is just as irreducible as the transcendental illusion in the
Kantian dialectic. This place is that of a subject constituted by interpellation, by
its being-interpellated (again being-before-the-law, the subject as a subject sub-
jected to the law and held responsible before it). As for Foucault's discourse, there
would be different. things to say according to the stages of its development. In his
case, we would appear to have a history of subjectivity that, in spite of certain
massive declarations about the effacement of the figure of man, certainly never
consisted in "liquidating" the Subject. And in his last phase, there again, a return
of mortality and a certain ethical subject. For these three discourses (Lacan,
Althusser, Foucault) and for some of the thinkers they privilege (Freud, Marx,
Nietzsche), the subject can be re-interpreted, restored, re-inscribed, it certainly
isn't "liquidated." The question "who," notably in Nietzsche, strongly reinforces
this point. This is also true of Heidegger, the principal reference or target of the
doxa we are talking about. The ontological question that deals with the subjectum,
in its Cartesian and post-Cartesian forms, is anything but a liquidation.

J LN: For Heidegger, nevertheless, the epoch that comes to a close as the epoch
of metaphysics, and that perhaps closes epochality as such, is the epoch of the
metaphysics of subjectivity, and the end of philosophy is then the exiling of the
metaphysics of subjectivity . . .

JD: But this "exiting" is not an exit, it cannot be compared to a passage beyond or a lapsing, even to a "liquidation."

J LN: No, but I can't see in Heidegger what thread in the thematic or the
problematic of the subject still remains to be drawn out, positively or affirmatively,
whereas I can see it if it's a question of truth, if it's a question of manifestation, a
question of the phenomenon . . .

JD: Yes. But two things: The very summary exposition that I have just ventured
was a quick response, precisely, to whatever summariness there might be in this
doxa that doesn't go to the trouble of analyzing, up close, in a differentiated manner,
the differential strategies of all these treatments of the "subject." We could have
chosen examples closer to us, but let's move on. The effect of the doxa consists in
saying: all these philosophers think they have put the subject behind them . . .

J LN: So it would now be a matter of going back to it, and that's the slogan.

JD: It's the effect of the slogan I was getting at. Second thing: what you called
the "thread to be drawn" in Heidegger, perhaps follows, among other paths, that
of an analogy (to be treated very cautiously) between the function of the Dasein in
Being and Time and the function of the subject in an ontological-transcendental,
indeed, ethico-juridical setting. Dasein cannot be reduced to a subjectivity, cer-
tainly, but the existential analytic still retains the formal traits of every transcenden
tal analytic. Dasein, and what there is in it that answers to the question "Who?"
comes to occupy, no doubt displacing lots of other things, the place of the "subject,"
the cogito or the classical "Ich denke." From these, it retains certain essential traits
(freedom, resolute-decision, to take up this old translation again, a relation or
presence to self, the "call" [Rj] toward a moral conscience, responsibility, primor-
dial imputability or guilt [Schuldigsein] etc.). And whatever the movements of
Heideggerian thought "after" Being and Time and "after" the existential analytic,
they left nothing "behind," "liquidated."

J-LN: What you are aiming at in my question then is the "coming after" as
leading to something false, dangerous . . .

JJ): Your question echoes, for legitimate strategic reasons, a discourse of "opin-
ion" that, it seems to me, one must begin by critiquing or deconstructing. I wouldn't
agree to enter into a discussion where it was imagined that one knew what the
subjcct is, where it would go without saying that this "character" is the same for
Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, Lacan, Foucault, Althusser, and others, who
would somehow all be in agreement to "liquidate" it. For me, the discussion would
begin to get interesting when, beyond the vested confusion of this doxa, one gets
to a more serious, more essential question. For example, if throughout all these
different strategies the "subject," without having been "liquidated," has been re-
interpreted, displaced, decentered, re inscribed, then, first: what becomes of those
problematics that seemed to presuppose a classical determination of the subject
(objectivity, be it scientific or other—ethical, legal, political, etc.), and second:
who or what "answers" to the question "who"?

J-LN: For me, "who" designated a place, that place "of the subject" that appears
precisely through deconstruction itself. What is the place that Dasein, for example,
comes to occupy?

JD: To elaborate this question along topological lines ("What is the place of the
subject?"), it would perhaps be necessary to give up before the impossible, that is
to say, before the attempt to reconstitute or reconstruct that which has already been
deconstructed (and which, moreover, has deconstructed "itself," an expression
that encapsulates the whole difficulty) and ask ourselves, rather: What are wc
designati ng, in a tradition that one would have to identify in a ri gorous way (le t's
say for the moment the one that runs from Descartes to Kant and to Husserl) under
the concept of subj ect, in such a way that once certain predicates have been
deconstructed, the uni ty of the concept and the name are radically affected ? These
predicates would be, for example, the sub jective structure as the being thrown—
or under-lying—of the substance or of the substratum, of the hypokeimenon, with
its qualities of stance or st ability, of permanent presence, of sustai ned relation to
self, everything that links the "subject" to conscience, to humanity, to history . . .
and above all to the law, as subject subjected to the law, s u bject to the law in its
very autonomy, to ethical or juridical law, to political law or power, to order
(symbolic or not) . . .

J LN: Are you proposing that the question be reformulated, keeping the name
"subject," but now used in a positive sense?

JD: Not necessarily. I would keep the name provisionally as an index for the
discussion, but I don't see the necessi ty of keeping the word "subject" at any pri ce,
e special ly if the context and conventions of discourse risk re-introducing preci sely
what is in question . . .

J LN: I don't see how you can keep the name without enormous misunder
standings. But in lieu of the "subject," there is something like a place, a unique
point of passage. It's like the writer for Blanchot: place of passage, of the e miss i on
of a voice that captures the "m u rmur" and detaches itself from it, but that is nev er
an "author" in the classical sense. How might one name this place? The qu estion
"who" seems to keep something of the subject, perhaps . . .

JD: Yes.

J LN: But the "what" is no better; what about "process," "functioning," "text"

JD: In the case of the text, I wouldn't say a "what" . . .

J LN: Can you be more precise?

JD: Yes, a little later, that can wait. I assumed, rather naively, that in our
discussion here we would try to bypass the work that we have both done c on ce rning
the "subject." That of course is impossible; in fact, it's idiotic. We will refer to this
later. Yes, it's idiotic. Moreover, one could pu t the subject in its subjectivity on
stage, submit it to the stage as the idiot (the innocent, the proper, the virgin, the
originary, the native, the naive, the great beginning: just as great, as erect, and as
autonomous as submissive, etc.).

In the text or in writing, such as I have tried to analyze them at least, there is,
I wouldn't say a place (and this is a whole question, this topology of a certain
locatable non place, at once necessary and undiscoverable) but an instance (without
stancc, a "without" without negativity) for the "who," a "who" besieged by the
problematic of the trace and of difffrance, of affirmation, of the signature and of
the so called "proper" name, of the je{clt (above all subject, object, project), as
destinerring of missive. I have tried to elaborate this problematic around numerous
ex am ples.

Let's go back a little and start out again from the question "who?" (I note first
of all in passing that to substitute a very indeterminate "who" for a "subject"
overburdened with metaphysical determinations is perhaps not enough to bring
about any decisive displacement. In the expression the "question 'Who'?" the
emphasis might well later fall on the word "question." Not only in order to ask who
asks the question or on the subject of whom the question is asked (so much does
syntax decide the answer in advance), but to ask if there is a subj ec t, no, a "who,"
before being able to ask questions about it. I don't yet know who can ask himself
th is nor how. But one can already see several possibilities opening up: the "who"
might be there before, as the power to ask questions (this, in the end, is how
Heidegger identifies the Dasein and comes to choose it as the exemplary guiding
threat in the question of Being) or else it might be, and this comes down to the
same thi ng, what is made possible by its power (by its being able to ask questions
about i tself (Who is who? Who is i t?). But there is another possibility that interests
me more at this point: it overwhelms the question itself, re inscribes it in the
ex peri ence of an "affirmation," of a "yes" or of an "en - gage" (this is the word I use
in De I'esprit to describe Zusage, that acquiescing to language, to the mark, that
the most primordial question implies), that "yes, yes" that answers before even
being able to formulate a question, that is responsible without autonomy, before
and in view of all possible autonomy of the who-subject, etc. The relation to self,
in this situation, can only be diff6rance, that is to say alterity, or trace. Not only
is the obligation not lessened in this situation, but, on the contrary, it finds in it
its only possibility, which is neither subjective nor human. Which doesn't mean
that it is inhuman or without subject, but that it is out of this d i slocated affirmation
(thus without "firmness" or "closedness") that someth ing like the subject, man, or
whoever it might be can take shape. I now close this long parenthesis.)

Let's go back. What are we aiming at in the deconstructions of the "subject"
when we ask ourselves what, in the stricture of the classical subject, continues to
be required by the question "Who?"

In addition to what we have just named (the proper name i n exappropriation,
signature, or affirmation without closure, trace, dfferance from self, destinerrance,
etc.), I would add something that remains required by both the definition of
the classical subject and by these latter nonclassical motifs, namely, a certain
responsibility. The singularity of the "who" is not the individuality of a thing that
would be identical to itself, it is not an atom. It is a singularity that dislocates or
divides itself i n gathering itself together to answer to the other, whose call somehow
precedes its own identification with itself, for to this call I can only answer, have
already answered, even if 1 think 1 am answering "no" (I try to explain this
elsewhere, notably in Ulynse Gramophone).

Here, no doubt, begins the link with the larger questions of ethical, juridical,
and political responsibility around which the metaphysics of subjectivity is consti
tuted. But i f one is to avoid too hastily reconstituting the program of this metaphysic
and suffering from its surreptitious constraints, it's best to proceed more slowly and
not rush into these words . . .

J LN: For me, the subject is above all, as in Hegel, "that which can retain in
itself its own contradiction." In the deconstruction of t his "property," it seems to
me that the "that which," the "what" of the "itself' brings forth the place, and the
question, of a "who" that would no longer be "in itself' in this way. A who that
would no longer have this property, but that would nevertheless be a who. It is
"him/her" I want to question here.

JD: Still on a preliminary level, let's not forget Nietzsche's precautions regarding
what might link metaphysics and grammar. These precautions need to be duly
adjusted and problematized, but they remain necessary. What we are seeking with
the question "Who?" perhaps no longer stems from grammar, from a relative or
interrogative pronoun that always refers back to the grammatical function of subject.
How can we get away from this contract between the grammar of the subject or
substantive and the ontology of substance or subject? The different singularity that
I named perhaps does not even correspond to the grammatical form "who" in a
sentence wherein "who" is the subject of a verb coming after the subject, etc. On
the other hand, i f Freudian thought has been consequential in the decentering of
the subject we have been talking about so much these last years, is the "ego," in
the elements of the topic or in the distribution of the positions of the unconscious,
the only answer to the question "Who?"? And if so, what would be the consequences
of this?

Henceforth, if we might retain the motif of "singularity" for a moment, it is
neither certain nor a priori necessary that "singularity" be translated by "who," or
remain the privilege of the "who." At the very moment in which they marked, let
us say, their mistrust for substantialist or subjectivist metaphysics, Heidegger and
Nietzsche, whatever serious differences there may be between the two, continued
to endorse the question "Who?" and subtracted the "who" from the deconstruction
of the subject. But we might still ask ourselves j ust how legi ti m ate this is.

Conversely, and to multiply the preliminary precautions so as not to neglect the
essential entanglement of this strange history, how can one forget that even in the
most marked transcendential idealism, that of Husserl, even where the origin
of the world is described, after the phenomenological reduction, as originary
consciousncss in the form of the ego, even in a phenom e nology that determines thc
Being of beings as an object in general for a subject in general, even in this
great philosophy of the tra ns cen den tal subject, the interminable genetic (so called
passive) analyses of the ego, of time and of the alter ego lead back to a pre-
egological and pre-subjectivist zone. There is, therefore, at the heart of what passes
for and presents itself as a transcendential idealism, a horizon of questioning that
is no longer dictated by the egological form of subjectivity or intersubjectivity. On
the French philosophical scene, the moment when a certain central hegemony of
the subject was being put into question again in the 1960s was also the moment
when, phenomenology still being very present, people began to become interested
in those places in Husserl's discourse where the egological and more generally the
subjective form of the transcendental experience appeared to be more constituted
than constitutive—in sum, as much grounded as precarious. The question of time
and of the other became linked to this transcendental passive genesis . . .

J-LN: Still, it was by penetrating into this Husserlian constitution, by "forcing"
it, that you began your own work . . .

JD: It is within, one might say (but it is precisely a question of the effraction of
the within) the living present, that Urform of the transcendental experience, that
the subject conjoins with nonsubject or that the ego is marked, without being able
to have the originary and presentative experience of it, by the non-ego and especially
by the alter ego. The alter ego cannot present itself, cannot become an originary
presence for the ego. There is only an analogical a-presentation [appr6sentation] of
the alter ego. The alter ego can never be given "in person," it resists in principle
the principles of phenomenology—namely, the intuitive given of originary presence.
This dislocation of the absolute subject from the other and from time neither comes
about, nor leads beyond phenomenology, but, rather, if not in it, then at least on
its border, on the very line of its possibility. It was in the 1950s and 1960s, at the
moment when an interest in these difficulties developed in a very different way
(Levinas, Tran Duc Tao, myself) and following moreover other trajectories (Marc,
Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger), that the centrality of the subject began to be dis-
placed and this discourse of "suspicion," as some were saying then, began to be
elaborated in its place. But if certain premises are to be found "in" Husserl, I'm
sure that one could make a similar demonstration in Descartes, Kant, and Hegel.
Concerning Descartes, one could discover, following the directions of your own
work,3 similar aporia, fictions, and fabrications. Not identical ones, but similar
ones. This would have at least the virtue of de-simplifying, of "de-homogenizing"
the reference to something like The Subject. There has never been The Subject for
anyone, that's what I wanted to begin by saying. The subject is a fable, as you
have shown, but to concentrate on the elements of speech and conventional
fiction that such a fable presupposes is not to stop taking it seriously (it is the
serious itself) . . .

J LN: Everything you have recalled here comes down to emphasizing that there
is not, nor has there ever been any presence to-self that would not call into question
the distance from self that this presence demands. "To deconstruct," here, comes
down to showing this distance at the very heart of presence, and, in so doing,
prevents us from simply separating an outdated "metaphysics of the subject" from
another thinking that would be, altogether, elsewhere. However, something has
there has been a history both of the thinking of the subject and of its
deconstruction. What Heidegger determined as the "epoch" of subjectivity, has
this taken place, or has the "subject" always been only a surface effect, a fallout
that one cannot impute to the thinkers? But in that case, what is Heidegger talking
about when he talks about subjectivity?

JD: An enormous question. I'm not sure that I can approach it head on. To the
degree I can subscribe to the Heideggerian discourse on the subject, I have always
been a little troubled by the Heideggerian delimitation of the epoch of subjectivity.
His questions about the ontological inadequacy of the Cartesian view of subjectivity
seem to me no doubt necessary but inadequate, notably in regard to what would link
subjectivity to representation, and the subject-object couple to the presuppositions of
the principle of reason in its Leibnizian formulation. I have tried to explain this
elsewhere. The repudiation of Spinoza seems to me to be significant. Here is a
great rationalism that does not rest on the principle of reason (inasmuch as in
Leibniz this principle privileges both the final cause and representation). Spinoza's
substantialist rationalism is a radical critique of both finalism and the (Cartesian)
representative determination of the idea; it is not a metaphysics of the cogito or of
absolute subjectivity. The import of this repudiation is all the greater and more sig-
nificant in that the epoch of subjectivity determined by Heidegger is also the epoch
of the rationality or the techno-scientific rationalism of modern metaphysics . . .

J-LN: But if the repudiation of Spinoza stems precisely from his having distanced
himself from what was dominant elsewhere, does that not confirm this domination?

JD: It's not Spinoza's case that is most important to me. Heidegger defines a
modern hegemony of the subject of representation or of the principle of reason.
Now if his delimitation is effected through an unjustified repudiation, it is the
interpretation of the epoch that risks becoming problematic. And so everything
becomes problematic in this discourse. And I would graft on another remark at this
point. We were speaking of dehiscence, of intrinsic dislocation, of differance, of
destinerrance, etc. Some might say: but what we call "subject" is not the absolute
origin, pure will, identity to self, or presence to self of consciousness but precisely
this noncoincidence with self. This is a riposte to which we'll have to return. By
what right do we call this "subject"? By what right, conversely, can we be forbidden
from calling this "subject"? I am thinking ofthose today who would try to reconstruct
a discourse around a subject that would not be predeconstructive, around a subject
that would no longer include the figure of mastery of self, of adequation to self,
center and origin of the world, etc. . . . but which would define the subject rather
as the finite experience of nonidentity to self, as the underivable interpellation
inasmuch as it comes from the other, from the trace of the other, with all the
paradoxes or the aporia of being before the law, etc. Perhaps we'll pick this up
again later on. For the moment, since we're speaking of Heidegger, let me add
this. I believe in the force and the necessity (and therefore in a certain irreversibility)
of the act by which Heidegger substitutes a certain concept of Dasein for a concept
of subject still too marked by the traits of the being as vorhanden, and hence by an
interpretation ojtime,
and insufficiently questioned in its ontological structure. The
consequences of this displacement are immense, no doubt we have not yet measured
their extent. There's no question of laying these out here in an improvised manner,
but I simply wanted to note this: the time and space of this displacement opened
up a gap, marked a gap, they left fragile, or recalled the essential ontological
fragility of the ethical, juridical, and political foundations of democracy and of
every discourse that one can oppose to national socialism in all its forms (the
"worst" ones, or those that Heidegger and others might have thought of opposing).
These foundations were and remain essentially sealed within a philosophy of the
subject. One can quickly perceive the question, which might also be the task: can
one take into account the necessity of the existential analytic and what it shatters in
the subject and turn towards an ethics, a politics (are these words still appropriate?),
indeed an "other" democracy (would it still be.a democracy?), in any case towards
another type ofresponsibility that safeguards against what a moment ago I very quickly
called the "worst?" Don't expect from me an answer in the way of a formula. I think
there are a certain number of us who are working for just this, arid it can only take
place by way of a long and slow trajectory. It cannot depend on a speculative decree,
even less on an opinion. Perhaps not even on philosophical discursivity.

Having said this, whatever the force, the necessity, or the irreversibility of the
Heideggerian gesture, the point of departure for the existential analytic remains
tributary of precisely what it puts into question. Tributary in this respect—I am
picking this out of the network of difficulties that I have associated with it at the
beginning of OJSpirit (on the question of the question, technology, animality, and
epochality)—which is intimately linked to the axiom of the subject: the chosen
point of departure, the entity exemplary for a reading of the meaning of Being, is
the entity that we are, we the questioning entities, we who, in that we are open to
the question of Being and of the being of the entity we are, have this relation to
self that is lacking in everything that is not Dasein. Even if Dasein is not the
subject, this point of departure (which is moreover assumed by Heidegger as
ontologico-phenomenological) remains analogous, in its "logic," to what he inherits
in undertaking to deconstruct it. This isn't a mistake, it's no doubt an indispensable
phase, but now . . .

J LN: I'd like to point something out to you: a moment ago you were doing
everything to dismiss, to disperse the idea of a "classic" problematic of the subject.
Now you are targeting in Heidegger that which would remain tributary of the
classical thinking or position of the subject. That seems 'a bit contradictory . . .

JD: I didn't say "there is no problematic of the subject," but rather that it cannot
be reduced to a homogeneity. This does not preclude, on the contrary, seeking to
define certain analogies or common sources, provided that one takes into account
the differences. For example, the point of departure in a structure of relation to self
as such and of reappropriation seems to me to be common just as much to transcen-
dental idealism, to speculative idealism as the thinking of absolute subjectivity, as
it is to the existential analytic that proposes its deconstruction. Being and Time
always concerns those possibilities most proper to Dasein in its Eigentlichkeit,
whateverthe singularity may be of this "propriation" that is not, in fact, a subjectiva-
tion. Moreover, that the point of departure of the existential analytic is the Dasein
privileges not only the rapport to self but also the power to ask questions. Now I
have tried to show (Of Spirit, p. 129, n. 5, sq) what this presupposed and what
could come about, even in Heidegger, when this privilege of the question was
complicated or displaced. To be brief, I would say that it is in the relation to the
"yes" or to the Zusage presupposed in every question that one must seek a new
(postdeconstructive) determination of the responsibility of the "subject." But it
always seems to me to be more worthwhile, once this path has been laid down, to
forget the word to some extent. Not to forget it, it is unforgettable, but to rearrange
it, to subject it to the laws of a context that it no longer dominates from the center.
In other words, no longer to speak about it, but to write it, to write "on" it as on
the "subjectile," for example. 4

In insisting on the as such, I am pointing from afar to the inevitable return of a
distinction between the human relation to self, that is to say, that of an entity
capable of conscience, of language, of a relation to death as such, etc., and a
nonhuman relation to self, incapable of the phenomenological as such—and once
again we are back to the question of the animal. 5 The distinction between the animal
(which has no or is not a Dasein) and man has nowhere been more radical nor more
rigorous than in Heidegger. The animal will never be either a subject or a Dasein.
It doesn't have an unconscious either (Freud), nor a rapport to the other as other,
no more than there is an animal face (Levinas). It is from the standpoint of Dasein
that Heidegger defines the humanity of man.

Why have I rarely spoken of the "subject" or of "subjectivity," but rather, here
and there, only of "an effect" of "subjectivity"? Because the discourse on the
subject, even if it locates difference, inadequation, the dehiscence within auto-
affection, etc., continues to link subjectivity with man. Even if it acknowledges
that the "animal" is capable of auto-affection (etc.), this discourse nevertheless
does not grant it subjectivity— and this concept thus remains marked by all the
presuppositions that I have just recalled. Also at stake here of course is responsibil
ity, freedom, truth, ethics, and- law.

The "logic" of the trace or of difJerance determines this re appropriation as an
ex-appropriation. Re-appropriation necessarily produces the opposite of what it
apparently aims for. Ex-appropriation is not what is proper to man. One can
recognize its differential figures as soon as there is a relation to self in its most
elementary form (but for this very reason there is no such thing as elementary).

J-LN: When you decide not to limit a potential "subjectivity" to man, why do
you then li mit yourself simply to the animal?

JD: Nothing should be excluded. I said "animal" for the sake of convenience
and to use a reference that is as classical as it is dogmatic. The difference between
"animal" and "vegetal" also remains problematic. Of course the relation to self i n
ex appropri ation is radically different (and that's why it requires a th inking of
differance and not of opposition) in the case of what one calls the "nonliving," the
"vegetal," the "animal," "man," or "God." The question also comes back to the
d ifference between the living and the nonliving. I have tried to indi cate the difficulty
of this difference in Hegel and Husserl, as well as i n Freud and Heidegger.

J-LN: For my part, in my work on freedom, I was compelled to ask myself if the
Heideggerian partition between Dasein, on the one side, and, on the other side,
Vor or Zuhandensein would not reconstitute a kind of distinction between subject
and object.

JD: The categories of Vorhandenheit and Zuhandenheit are also intended to avoid
those of object (correlate of the subject) and instrument. Dasein is first of all thrown.
What would link the analytic of Dasein with the heritage of the subject would
perhaps be more the determination of Dasein as Geworfenheit, its primordial being-
thrown, rather than the determination of a subject that would come to be thrown,
but a being-thrown that would be more primordial than subjectivity and therefore
[more primordial] than objectivity as well. A passivity that would be more primordial
than traditional passivity and th an Gegenstand (Gegenwuif, the old German word
for object, keeps this reference to throwing, without s tabilizing it into the stance of
a stehen). I refer you to what I have said about the "di sistance"6 of the subject in
Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe. I am trying to think through this experience of the
throwing/being-thrown of the subjectile beyond the Heideggerian protocols about
which I was just speaking and to link it to another thinking of destination, of chance
and of destinerrance (see again "My Chances,"7 where I situ ate a (repudiated)
relationship between Heidegger and a thinking of the Democritean type).

Starting at "birth," and possibly even prior to it, be ing- thrown reappropriates
itself or rather ex-appropriates itself in forms that are not yet those of the subject or
the project. The question "who" then becomes: "Who (is) thrown?" "Who becomes—
'who' from out of the destinerrance of the being-thrown?" That it is still a matter
here of the trace, but also of iterability (cf. my "Limited Inc. "8) means that this ex
ap pro priation cannot be absolutely stabilized in the form of the subject. The subject
assumes presence, that is to say sub-stance, stasis, stance. Not to be able to
st.abilize itself absolutely would mean to be able only to be stabilizing itself. Ex-
appro priation no lon ger closes itself; it never total i zes itself. One shou ld not take
these figures for metaphors (metaphorici ty im plies ex-appropriation), nor determine
them according to the gram matical opposition of active/passive. Between the thrown
and the falling (Verfallen) there is also a possible point of passage. Why is Geworfen
while never put into question, subsequently given to marginalization in Heidegger's thinking? This is what, it seems to me, we must continue to ask. And ex^
appropriation does not form a boundary, if one understands by this word a closure or a negativity. It implies the irreducibility of the relation to the other. The othe:
resists all subjectivation, even to the point of the interiorization-idealization of wha one calls the work of mourning. The non-subjectivable in the experience of mouminj
is what I tried to describe in Glas and in Memoires (for Paul de Man). There is, ii
what you describe in your recent book as an experience of freedom, an openinj
that also resists subjectivation, that is to say, it resists the modern concept o
freedom as subjective freedom.

J LN: In what you are calling ex-appropriation, inasmuch as it does not close ii
on itself and although it does not close in on itself (let us say in and in spite of it:
"passivity") is there not also necessarily something on the order of singularity? I
is in any case something on the order of the singular that I was getting at with m;
question who.

JD: Under the heading of Jemeinigkeit, beyond or behind the subjective "self
or person, there is for Heidegger a singularity, an irreplaceability of that whicl
remains nonsubstitutable in the structure of Dasein. This amounts to an irreducibli
singularity or solitude in Mitsein (which is also a condition of Mitsein) , but it is no
that of the individual. This last concept always risks pointing towards both the eg<
and an organic or atomic indivisibility. The Da of Dasein singularizes itself withou
being reducible to any of the categories of human subjectivity (self, reasonabl
being, consciousness, person), precisely because it is presupposed by all of these

J LN: You are getting around to the question "Who comes after the subject?'
reversing its form: "Who comes before the subject? . . .

JD: Yes, but "before" no longer retains any chronological, logical, nor evei
ontologico-transcendental meaning, if one takes into account, as I have tried to do
that which resists the traditional schema of ontologico-transcendental questions.

J-LN: But I still do not understand whether or not you leave a place for th,
question "Who?" Do you grant it pertinence or, on the contrary, do you not eve)
want to pose it, do you want to bypass every question ... ?

JD: What troubles me is what also commands my thinking here: it involves thi
necessity of locating, wherever one responds to the question "Who?"—not only ii
terms of the subject, but also in terms ofDasein—conceptual oppositions that hav<
not yet been sufficiently questioned, not even by Heidegger. I referred to this i
moment ago, and this is what I have been aiming at in all my analyses of Heidegger. 1 '
In order to recast, if not rigorously re-found a discourse on the "subject," on tha
which will hold the place (or replace the place) of the subject (of law, of morality
of politics—so many categories caught up in the same turbulence), one has to g (
through the experience of a deconstruction. This deconstruction (we should one
again remind those who do not wanl to read) is neither negative nor nihilistic; it is
not even a pious nihilism, as I have heard said. A concept (that is to say also an
experience) of responsibility comes at this price. We have not finished paying for
it. I am talking about a responsibility that is not deaf to the injunction of thought.
As you said one day, there is a duty in deconstruction. There has to be, if there is
such a thing as duty. The subject, if subject there must be, is to come after this.

After: not that it takes the rather improbable end of a deconstru ction before we
can assume responsibilities! But in order to describe the origin, the meaning, or
the status of these responsibilities, the concept of subject still remains problematic.
What I find disturbing is not that it is inadequate: it is no doubt the case that there
neither can be nor should be any concept adequate to what we call respons ibility.
Responsibility carries within it, and must do so, an essential excessiveness. It
regulates itself neither on the principle of reason nor on any sort of accountancy.
To put it rather abruptly, I would say that, among other thin gs, the subj ect is
also a principle of calculability— for the political (and even, indeed, for the
current concept of democ racy, which is less clear, less homogenous, and less
of a given than we believe or claim to believe, and which no doubt needs to
be rethought, radicalized, and considered as a thing of the future), in the
question of legal and human rights (including the rights of man, about which
I would repeat what I have just said about democracy) and in morality. There
has to be some calculation, and this is why I have never held against cal culati on
t h at condes cending reticence of "Heideggerian" haughtiness. Still c alculation is
calculation. And if I speak so often of the incalculable and the undecidable it's
not out of a simple predilection for play nor in order to neutralize decision: on
the contrary, I believe there is no responsibility, no ethico political decision,
that must not pass through the proofs of the incalculable or the undecidable.
O therwise everything would be reducible to calculation, program, causality, and,
at best, "hypothetical imperative."

It is therefore a certain closing off—the saturating or suturing—of identity to
self, and a structure still too narrowly lit to self-identification, that today gives the
concept of subject its dogmatic effect. Something analogous perhaps occurs, it
seems to me, with the concept of Dasein, but at a distance that must never be
neglected. In spite of everything it opens up and encourages us to think, to
question, and to redistribute, Dasein still occupies a place analogous to that of the
transcendental subject. And its concept, in Being and Time, is determined, it
seems to me, on the basis of oppositions, that remain i n suffic i ently interrogated.
Here once again we find the question ofman. The possibility for the indeterminate
"who" to become subject, or, more originarily, to become Dasein and Dasein thrown
(gewoifene) into the world, is reserved for man alone. This possibility, which in
.sum defines man for Heidegger, stands in opposition to every o ih er form of self
relation, for example, what one calls the living in general, a very obscure notion,
fo r the very reasons we have indica ted. As long as these op posi tions have not been
deconstructed—and they are strong, subtle, at times mainly implicit—we will
reconstitute under the name of subject, indeed under the name of Dasein, an
illegitimately delimited ide nti ty, illegi ti mately, but often precisely under the author
ity of rights!—in the name of a particular kind of rights. For it is in order to put
a stop to a certain kind of rights, to a certain juridico political calculation, that this
qu estioni n g has been inte^ pte d. Deconstruction therefore calls for a different kind
of rights, or, rather, lets itself be called by a more exacting articulation of rights,
prescribing, in a different way, more responsibility.

It is thu s not a matter of opposing another discourse on the same "things" to the
enormous multiplicity of traditional discourses on man, animal, plant, or stone,
but of ceaselessly analyzing the whole conceptu al machinery, and its i nterestedness,
which has allowed us to speak of the "subject" up to now. And the analys is produces
always m ore and something other than an analysis. It transforms; it translates a
transformation already in pro gress. Translation is transformative. This e x plains the
nervous distrust of those who want to keep all these themes, all these "words"
("man," "subject," etc.), sheltered from all questioning, and who manipulate an
ethico-poli ti c al s uspicion with regard to deconstruction.

If we still wish to speak of the subject—the juridical, ethical, polit i cal, psycho-
logi c al subject, etc.—and of what makes its semantics communicate with that of
the subj ec t of a pro posi tion (distinct from qualities, attributes viewed as substance,
phenomen a, etc.) or with t he theme or the thesis (the subject of a discourse or of
a book), it is first of all necessary to submit to the test of questioning the essential
predicates of which all subj ec ts are the subject. While these predicates are as
numerous and diverse as the type or order of subjects dictates, they are all in fact
ordered around being present (etant present), presence to self—which implies
therefore a certain interpretation of temporality: identity to self, positionality,
property, personality, ego, consciousness, will, intentionality, freedom, human i ty,
etc. It is necessary to quest ion this authority ofthe being present, but the qu es ti on
itself neither offers the first nor the las t word, as I have tried to show for example
in De L'esprit, but also eve^vhere I have spoken of the "Yes, yes," of the "Come"
or of t he affirmation that is not addressed first of all to a subj ect. " This vigil or
be yond of the question is anything but precritical. Beyond e ven the force of critique,
it situates a responsibility as irreducible to and rebellious toward the traditional
category of "subj ec t. ' ' Such a vigil leads us to recogni ze the processes of differance,
trace, i terab i li ty, ex- appropriation, and s o on. These are at work everywhe re, which
is to say, well beyond humanity. A di scourse thus restructured can try to situate i n
another way the question of what a h uman subj ect, a morali ty, a politics, t he ri gh ts
of the human subject are, can be, and should be. Still to come, this task is
i ndeed far ahead of us. It requi res passing through the great phenomeno-ontological
question of the as such, appearing as such, to the extent that it is held to distinguish,
in the last analysis, the human subject or Dasein from every other form of relation
to the self or to the other as such. The experience or the opening of the as such in
the onto phenomenological sense does not merely consist in that which is lacking
in the stone or the animal; it equally involves that to which one cannot and should
submit the other in general, in other words the "who" of the other that could
only appear absolutely as such by disappearing as other. The enormity involved in
que stions of the subject, as in the questions of right, ethics, and politics, always
lead back to this place.

If we go back to the semantics of throwing or of the "subjectile" that has instituted
the co ncept of subj ect, we should note that the Geworfenheit (thrownness) of Dasein,
even before being a subjectivity, does not simply characterize a state, a fact, as in
bei n g-thrown into the world at birth. It can also describe a manner of being thrown,
delivered, expose d to the call (Ruf). C onsider the analysis of Gewissen and originary
Schuldigsein. Heidegger shows in particular what is insufficient, from the anthropo-
logico ontological point of view, about both the "picture" (Bild) of the Kantian
"court of justice" and any recourse to psychical faculties or personal actions (Being
and Time,
p. 271) in order to describe the call and "moral conscience." But the
translation remains equivocal. Gewissen is not yet the "moral conscience" it renders
possible, no more th an Schuldigsein is a culpabi lity: it is rather the possibili ty of
bei ng guilty, a liability or an i mputability. I would be tempted to relate this call to
what Heidegger says enigm atically and elliptically about the "voice of the friend,"
and particularly in tenns of "hearing" this voice that every Dasein "carries within
it" (Being and Time, p. 163). I treat this elsewhere.12 But for the moment I would
already say this much: the "who" of fri endsh ip, the voice of the friend so described,
be longs to the existential structure of Dasein. This voice does not impl icate just
one passion or affect among others. The "who" of friendship, as the call (Ruf) that
prov ok e s or convokes "conscience" and therefore opens up responsibility, precedes
every subjectal determination. On the indefinite openness of this question I would
be tempted to read to you from your The Inoperable Community or from Blanchot's
The Unavowable Community, or else these few lines from his L'amitie: "And when
we ask the question: 'Who has been the subject of this experience?' this question
is perhaps already I1-n answer, if, for the one who introduced it, it was affirmed
through him in this inte rrogative form, substituti ng for the closed and unique 'I'
the openness of a 'Who?' without answer. Not that this means that he simply had
to as k himself: 'What is this me that I am?' but much more radically he had to seize
hold of himself and not let go, no longer as an 'I?' but as a 'Who?,' the unknown
and sli ding b eing of an indefini te 'Who?.' "13

The origin of the call that comes from nowhere, an ori gin in any case that is not
yet a divine or human "subject," inslitutes a responsibili ty that is to be found at
the root of all ulterior responsibilities (moral, juridical, political), and of every
cate gori c al i mpe rati ve. To say of this responsibility, and even of this friendship,
that i t is not "human," no more than it is "divine," does not simply come down to
saying that it is inhuman. This said, in this regard it is perhaps more "worthy" of
humanity to maintain a certain inhumanity, which is to say the rigor of a certain
inhumanity. In any case, such a law does not leave us any choice. Something of
this call of the other must remain nonreappropriable, nonsubjectivable, and in a
certain way nonidentifiable, a sheer .supposition, so as to remain other, a singular
call to response or to responsibility. This is why the determination of the singular
"Who?"—or at least its determination as subject—still remains problematic. And
it should remain so. This obligation to protect the other's otherness is not merely
a theoretical imperative.

J LN: In that respect, indeed, the determination of "who" is problematic. But in
another respect, is not the interrogative "Who?"—the one I used in my question—
determinative? By which I mean that it predetermines—as every question predeter
mines the order of response—a response from someone, from some one. What is
predetermined—which is also to say, what is called—is a respondent. It seems to
me that this would link up with the guiding threat of your response. But I would
note that with a single gesture, or at least in this same interview, you are keeping
at a distance, under suspicion, the question "Who?" while you also increasingly
validate the "Who?" You validate it by suppressing that which, a priori, would
limit the question to humanity.

JD: Yes, I would not want to see the "who" restricted to the grammar of what we
call Western language, nor even limited by what we believe to be the very humanity
of language.

J LN: An incidental remark. In Heidegger's seminar, to which you alluded in
reference to the animal, there is all the same something strange, if I remember
correctly: toward the end of the analysis of the animal, Heidegger attributes to it
a sadness, a sadness linked to its "lack of world." With this single remark, does
not Heidegger contradict part of what he said before? How could sadness be
nonhuman? Or rather, how would such a sadness fail to testify to a relation to a

JD: The Heideggerian discourse on the animal is violent and awkward, at
times contradictory. Heidegger does not simply say "The animal is poor in world
[weltarm]," for, as distinct from the stone, it has a world. He says: the animal has
a world in the mode of a not having. But this not-having does not constitute in his
view an indigence, the lack of a world that would be human. So why this negative
determination? Where does it come from? There is no category of original existence
for the animal: it is evidently not Dasein, either as vorhandene or zuhandene (Being
cannot appear, be, or be questioned as such [als] for the animal). Its simple
existence introduces a principle of disorder or of limitation into the conceptuality
of Being and Time. To come back to your remark, perhaps the animal is sad,
perhaps it appears sad, because it indeed has a world, in the sense in which
Heidegger speaks of a world as world of spirit, and because there is an openness
of this world for it, but an openness without openness, a having (world) without
having it. Whence the impression of sadness—for man or in relation to man, in the
society of man. And of a sadness determined in its phenomenology, as if the animal
remained a man enshrouded, suffering, deprived on account of having access
neither to the world of man that he nonetheless senses, nor to truth, speech, death,
or the Being of the being as such. Heidegger defends himself in vain against this
anthropo-teleological interpretation, which seems to me to derive from the most
acute aspect in his description of having-in-the-mode-of-not having-a-world. Let
us venture, in this logic, a few questions. For example, does the animal hear the
call that originates responsibility? Does it question? Morever, can the call heard
by Dasein come originally to or from the animal? Is there an advent of the animal?
Can the voice of the friend be that of an animal? Is friendship possible for the
animal or between animals? Like Aristotle, Heidegger would say: no. Do we not
have a responsibility toward the living in general? The answer is still "no," and
this may be because the question is formed, asked in .such a way that the answer
must necessarily be "no" according to the whole canonized or hegemonic discourse
of Western metaphysics or religions, including the most original forms that this
discourse might assume today, for example, in Heidegger or Levinas.

I am not recalling this in order to start a support group for vegetarianism,
ecologism, or for the societies for the protection of animals—which is something I
might also want to do, and something which would lead us to the center of the
subject. I feel compelled to underscore the sacrificial structure of the discourses to
which I am referring. I don't know if "sacrificial stricture" is the most accurate
expression. In any case, it is a matter of discerning a place left open, in the very
structure of these discourses (which are also "cultures") for a noncriminal putting
to death. Such are the executions of ingestion, incorporation, or introjection of the
corpse. An operation as real as it is symbolic when the corpse is "animal" (and
who can be made to believe that our cultures are carnivorous because animal
proteins are irreplaceable?), a symbolic operation when the corpse is "human."
But the "symbolic" is very difficult, truly impossible to delimit in this case, hence
the enormity of the task, its essential excessiveness, a certain unclassifiability or
the monstrosity of that for which we have to answer here, or before which (whom?
what?) we have to answer.

Keeping to original, typical possibilities, let's take things from another angle:
not that of Heidegger but of Levinas, for whom subjectivity, of which he speaks a
great deal in a new, forceful, and unusual way, is constituted first of all as the
subjectivity of the hostage. Rethought in this way, the hostage is the one who is
delivered to the other in the sacred openness of ethics, to the origin of sacredness
itself. The subject is responsible for the other before being responsible for himself
as "me." This responsibility to the other, for the other, comes to him, for example
(but this is not just one example among others) in the "Thou shalt not kill." Thou
shalt not kill thy neighbor. Consequences follow upon one another, and must do so
continuously: thou shalt not make him suffer, which is sometimes worse than death,
thou shalt not do him harm, thou shalt not eat him, not even a little bit, etc. The
other, the neighbor, the friend (Nietzsche tries to keep these two values separate
in Zarathustra, but let's leave that, I'll try to come back to it elsewhere), is no doubt
infinitely remote from transcendence. But the "Thou shalt not kill" is addressed to
the other and presupposes him. It is destined to the very thing that it institutes,
the other as man. It is by him that the subject is first of all held h ostage. The "Thou
shalt not kill'—with all its consequences, which are limitless—has never been
understood within the Judeo Christian tradition, nor apparently by Levinas, as a
'Thou shalt not put to death the living in general." It has become meaningful in
religious cultures for which carnivorous sacrifice is essential, as being flesh. The
other, such as this can be thought according to the imperati ve of ethical transcen
dence, is indeed the other man: man as other, the other as man. Humanism of the
other man is a title in which Levinas suspends the hierarchy of the attribute and
the subject. But the other man is the subject.

Discourses as original as those of Heidegger and Levinas disrupt, of course, a
certain traditional humanism. In spite of the differences separating them, they
nonetheless re ma i n profound humanisms to the extent that they do not sacrifice
The subject (in Levinas's sense) and the Dasein are "men" in a world
where sacrifice is possible and where it is not forbidden to make an attempt on life
in general, but only on the life of a man, of other kin, on the other as Dasein.
Heidegger does not say it this way. But what he places at the origin of moral
conscience (or rather Gewissen) is obviously denied to the animal. Mitsein is not
conferred, if we can say so, on the living in general, no more than is Dasein, but
only on that being toward death that also makes the Dasein into something else,
somethi ng more and better than a living [thing]. As j ustified as it may be from a
certain point of view, Heidegger's obstinate critique of vitalism and of the philoso-
phies of life, but also of any consideration of life in the structure of Dasein is not
unrelated to what I am calling here a "sacrificial structure." This "sacrificial
structure," it seems to me (at least for the moment, this is a hypothes is that I am
trying to relate to what I call elsewhere the "phallogocentric" structure) defines the
invisible contour of all these reflections, whatever the distance taken with regard
to ontology in Levinas's thinking (in the name of what he calls metaphysics) or in
Heidegger's with regard to onto-theological metaphysics. Going much too quickly
here, I would still try to link the questi on of the "who" to the question of "sacrifice. "
The conjunction of "who" and "sacrifice" not only recalls the concept of the subject
as phallogocentric structure, at least according to its dominant schema: one day I
hope to demonstrate that this schema implies carnivorous virility. I would want to
explain camo-phallogocentrism, even if this comes down to a sort of tautology or
rather hetero-tautology as a priori synthesis, which you could translate as "specula
tive idealism," "becoming-subject of substance," "absolute knowledge" passing
through the "speculative Good Friday": it suffices to take seriously the idealizing
interiorization of the phallus and the necessity of its passage through the mouth,
whether it's a matter of words or of things, of sentences, of daily bread or wine, of
the tongue, the lips, or the breast of the other. You will possibly want to object:
there are ethical, juridical, and political subjects (recognized only quite recently,
as you well know), full (or almost full) citizens who are also women and/or vegetari
ans! But this has been admitted in principle, and in rights, only recently and
p re cis el y at the moment when the concept of subject is submitted to deconstruction.

Is this fortuitous? And that which I am calling here schema or image, that which
links the concept to intuition, installs the virile figure at the determinative center
of the subject. Authority and autonomy (for even if autonomy is subject to the law,
this subjugation is freedom) are, through this schema, attributed to the man (homo
and vir) rather than to the woman, and to the woman rather than to the animal. And
of course to the adult rather than to the child. The virile strength of the adult male,
the father, husband, or brother (the canon of friendship, I will show elsewhere,
privileges the fraternal schema) belongs to the schema that dominates the concept
of subject. The subject does not want just to master and possess nature actively.
In our cultures, he accepts sacrifice and eats flesh. Since we haven't much time or
space here, and at the risk of provoking some screaming (we pretty much know
from which quarter), I would ask you: in our countries, who would stand any chance
of becoming a chef d'Etat (a head of State), and of thereby acceding "to the
head," by publicly, and therefore exemplarily, declaring him- or herself to be a
vegetarian?14 The chifmust be an eater of flesh (with a view, moreover, to being
"symbolically" eaten himself—see above). To say nothing of the celibate, of homo-
sexuality, and even of femininity (which for the moment, and so rarely, is only
admitted to the head of whatever it might be, especially the State, if it lets itself
be translated into a virile and heroic schema. Contrary to what is often thought,
the "feminine condition," notably from the point of view of rights, deteriorated from
the fourteenth to the nineteenth century in Europe, reaching its worst moment when
the Napoleonic code was inscribing the positive right of the concept of subject we
arc talking about).

In answering these questions, you will have not only a scheme of the dominant,
of the common denominator of the dominant, which is still today of the order of the
political, the State, right, or morality, you will have the dominant schema of
subjectivity itself. It's the same. If the limit between the living and the nonliving
now seems to be as unsure, at least as an oppositional limit, as that between "man"
and "animal," and if, in the (symbolic or real) experience of the "eat-speak-
interiorize," the ethical frontier no longer rigorously passes between the "Thou
shalt not kill" (man, thy neighbour) and the "Thou shalt not put to death the living
in general, " but rather between several infinitely different modes of the conception
appropriation-assimilation of the other, then, as concerns the "Good" (Bien) of
every morality, the question will come back to determining the best, most respectful,
most grateful, and also most giving way of relating to the other and of relating the
other to the self. For everything that happens at the edge of the orifices (of orality,
but also of the ear, the eye—and all the "senses" in general) the metonymy of
"eating well" (bien manger) would always be the rule. The question is no longer
one of knowing if it is "good" to eat the other or if the other is "good" to eat, nor
of knowing which other. One eats him regardless and lets oneself bc eatcn by him.
Thc so called nonanthropophagic cultures practice symbolic anthropophagy and
even construct their most elevated socius, indeed the sublimity of their morality,
their politics, and their right, on this anthropophagy. Vegetarians, too, partake of
animals, even of men. They practice a different mode of denegation. The moral
question is thus not, nor has it ever been: should one eat or not eat, eat this and
not that, the living or the nonliving, man or animal, but since one must eat in any
case and since it is and tastes good to eat, and since there's no other definition of
the good (du bien), how for goodness sake should one eat well (bien manger)? And
what does this imply? What is eating? How is this metonymy of introjection to be
regulated? And in what respect does the formulation of these questions in language
give us still more food for thought? In what respect is the question, if you will,
carnivorous? The infinitely metonymical question on the subject of "one must eat
well" must be nourishing not only for me, for a "self," which, given its limits,
would thus eat badly, it must be shared, as you might put it, and not only in
language. "One must eat well" does not mean above all taking in and grasping in
itself, but learning and giving to eat, learning-to-give-the-other-to eat. One never
eats entirely on one's own: this constitutes the rale underlying the statement, "One
must eat well." It is a rule offering infinite hospitality. And in all differences,
ruptures and wars (one might even say wars of religion), "eating well" is at stake.
Today more than ever. One must eat well—here is a maxim whose modalities and
contents need only be varied, ad infinitum. This evokes a law of need or desire (I
have never believed in the radicality of this occasionally useful distinction), orexis,
hunger, and thirst ("one must," "one must [eat] well"), respect for the other at the
very moment when, in experience (I am speaking here of metonymical "eating" as
well as the very concept of experience), one must begin to identify with the other,
who is to be assimilated, interiorized, understood ideally (something one can never
do absolutely without addressing oneself to the other and without absolutely limiting
understanding itself, the identifying appropriation), speak to him in words that also
pass through the mouth, the ear, and sight, and respect the law that is at once a
voice and a court (it hears itself, it is in us who are before it). The sublime refinement
involved in this respect for the other is also a way of "Eating well," in the sense
of good eating but also doing well to eat. The Good can also be eaten. And it must
be eaten well. 1 don't know, at this point, who is "who," no more than 1 know what
"sacrifice" means; to determine what this last word means, 1 would retain this clue:
need, desire, authorization, the justification of putting to death, putting to death as
denegation of murder. The putting to death of the animal, says this denegation, is
not a murder. 1 would link this denegation to the violent institution of the "who"
as subject. There is no need to emphasize that this question of the subject and of
the living "who" is at the heart of the most pressing concerns of modern societies,
whether they are deciding birth or death, including what is presupposed in the
treatment of sperm or the ovule, pregnant mothers, genetic genes, so called bioeth
ics or biopolitics (what should be the role of the State in determining or protecting
a living subject?), the accredited criteriology for determining, indeed for "euthanas-
tically" provoking death (how can the dominant reference to consciousness, to the
will and the cortex still be justified?), organ transplant, and tissue grafting. (I might
recall in passing that the question of the graft in general has always been—and
thematically so from the beginning—essential to the deconstruction of phallogo

Let's go back a little: In relation to whom, to what other, is the subject first
thrown (geworfen) or exposed as hostage? Who is the "neighbor" dwelling in the
very proximity of transcendence, in Heidegger's transcendence, or Levinas's? These
two ways of thinking transcendence are as different as you wish. They are as
different or as similar as being and the other, but seem to me to follow the same
schema. What is still to come or what remains buried in an almost inaccessible
memory is the thinking of a responsibility that does not stop at this determination
of the neighbor, at the dominant schema of this determination. One could, if one
so wished, show that the problems or the questions that I am raising here concern
not only metaphysics, onto-theologies, and certain claims to go beyond them, but
also the ethnology of the religious domains in which these thinkings "presented"
themselves. I have tried to suggest, notably in Of Spirit, that in spite of many denega
tions, Heidegger was a Judeo-Christian thinker. (However, an ethnology or a sociol
ogy of religions would only be up to these questions if it were no longer itself domi
nated, as regional science, by a conceptuality inherited from these metaphysics or
onto-theologies. Such an ethnology would in particular have to spend quite some time
in the complex history of Hinduist culture, which perhaps represents the most subtle
and decisive confirmation of this schema. Does it not, precisely, set in opposition the
political hierarchy—or the exercise of power—and the religious hierarchy, the latter
prohibiting, the former allowing itself, indeed imposing upon itself the eati ng ofmeat?
Very summarily, one might think of the hierarchy of the varna, if not of the castes,
and of the distinction between the Brahman priests, who became vegetarians, and the
Kshatriya warriors, who are not ...

J-LN: I must inte^upt you, for in the time remaining I want to ask you some
more questions. Beginning with this one: in the shift, which you judge to be
necessary, from man to animal—I am expressing myself very quickly and crudely—
what happens to language?

JD: The idea according to which man is the only speaking being, in its traditional
form or in its Heideggerian form, seems to me at once undisplaceable and highly
problematic. Of course, if one defines language in such a way that it is reserved
for what we call man, what is there to say? But if one reinscribes language in a
network of possibilities that do not merely encompass it but mark it irreducibly
from the inside, everything changes. I am thinking in particular of the mark in
general, of the trace, of iterability, of diffirance. These possibilities or necessities,
without which there would be no language, are themselves not only human. It is not
a question of covering up ruptures and heterogeneities. I would simply contest that
they give rise to a single linear, indivisible, oppositional limit, to a binary opposition
between the human and the infra-human. And what I am proposing here should
allow us to take into account scientific knowledge about the complexity of "animal
languages," genetic coding, all forms of marking within which so-called human
language, as original as it might be, does not allow us to "ciu" once and for all
where we would in general like to cut. As you can see, in spite of appearances, I
am speaking here of very "concrete" and very "current" problems: the ethics and
the politics of the living. We know less than ever where to cut—either at birth or
at death. And this also means that we never know, and never have known, how to
cut up a subject. Today less than ever. If we had been given more space, I would
like to have spoken here about AIDS, an event that one could call historial in the
epoch of subjectivity, if we still gave credence to historiality, to epochality, and to

J LN: Second question: since, in the logic you have deployed, you foresee for a
lon g time hence the possibility of coming back to or c omi n g at last to interrogate
the subjcct of ethical, juridical, political responsibility, what can one say of this
or these responsibilities now? Might one not speak of them under the heading of a
"provisional morality"? What would this mean? And I would add to this the question
of what is today perhaps recognized as "the" question, or as "the" figure of
responsibility, namely, Auschwitz. There, where an almost general consensus
recognizes an absolute responsibility and calls for a responsibility so that it might
not be repeated, would you say the same thing—provisionally or not—or would
you say that one must defer the answer to this question?

JD: J cannot subscribe to the expression "provisional morality." At the very
least, an exa c ting responsibility requires not trusting blindly the axioms of which
we have just spoken. These limit still more the concept of responsibility within
frontiers that the axioms refuse to answer for, and they constitute, in the form of
provisional schemas, the very models of traditional morality and right. But for
this surplus of responsibility that summons the deconstmctive gesture or that the
deconstructive gesture of which I am speaking calls forth, a waiting period is
neither possible nor legitimate. The deconstmctive explication with provisional
prescriptions might ask for the indefatigable patience of the recommencement, but
the affirmation that motivates the deconstruction is unconditional, imperative, and
immediate—in a sense that is not necessarily or only Kantian, even if this affirma
tion, because it is double, as I have tried to show, is ceaselessly threatened. This
is why it leaves no respite, no rest. It can always upset, at least, the instituted
rhythm of every pause (and the subject is a pause, a stance, the stabilizing arrest,
the thesis, or rather the hypothesis we will always need), it can always trouble
our Saturdays and Sundays . . . and our Fridays. . . . I'll let you complete this
monotheistic sentence, it's a bit wearying.

J LN: Would you think, then, that Heidegger's silence concerning the camps—
this almost total silence, as distinct from his relative silence about his own Nazism—
would you think that this silence might have come from such a "deconstructive
explication," at once different but comparable, that he might have been trying to
carry out in silence, without managing to explain himself on it? (I could ask this
question about others, about Bataille, for example, but let's stick to Heidegger for
today. )

JD: Yes and no. The surplus of responsibility of which I was just speaking will
never authorize any silence. I repeat: responsibility is excessive or it is not a
responsibility. A limited, measured, calculable, rationally distributed responsibil
ity is already the becoming-right of morality; it is at times also, in the best
hypothesis, the dream of every good conscience, in the worst hypothesis, of the
small or grand inquisitors. 1 suppose, 1 hope you are not expecting me simply to
say "I condemn Auschwitz" or "I condemn every silence on Auschwitz." As regards
this last phrase or its equivalents, 1 find a bit indecent, indeed, obscene, the
mechanical nature of improvised trials instigated against all those whom one thinks
one can accuse of not having named or thought "Auschwitz." A compulsion toward
sententious discourse, strategic exploitation, the eloquence of denunciation: all
this would be less grievous if one began by stating, rigorously, what we call
"Auschwitz" and what we think about it, if we think something. What is the referent
here? Are we making a metonymical usage of this proper name? If we are, what
governs this usage? Why this name rather than that of another camp, of other mass
exterminations, etc. (and who has answered these questions seriously)? If not, why
this forgetful and just as grievous restriction? If we admit—and this concession
seems to me to be readable everywhere—that the thing remains unthinkable, that
we still have no discourse equal to it, if we recognize that we have nothing to say
about the real victims of Auschwitz, the same ones we nonetheless authorize
ourselves to treat by metonymy or to name via negativa, then let's stop diagnosing
the alleged silences, forcing avowals of the "resistances" or the "unthought" in
everyone indiscriminately. Of course, silence'on Auschwitz will never be justifiable;
nor is speaking about it in such an instrumental fashion and in order to say nothing,
to say nothing about it that does not go without saying, trivially, serving primarily
to give oneself a good conscience, so as not to be the last to accuse, to teach
lessons, to take positions, or to grandstand. As for what you call Heidegger's
"infamous silence," 1 think that in order to interpret or to judge it—which is not
always the same thing—it would be necessary at least to take into account, and
this is not easy to circumscribe and would require more space and time, what we
have said here about the subject, about man, about the animal, but also about
sacrifice, which means also about so many other things. A necessary condition,
which would already call for lengthy discourse. As for going beyond this necessary
but insufficient condition, 1 would prefer that we wait for, let us say, another
moment, the occasion of another discussion: another rhythm and another form.


1. CF. Spur,,: Nietzsche's Styles, trans. B. Harlow (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979);

"Pr6juges" in La facultl de juger (Paris Minuit, 1984); Ulysse Gramomophone (Paris, Galilee, 1987);

Of spirit: He idegger and the Question, trans. G. Bennington and R. Bowlby (Chicago, 1989). On
the "yes, yes,"
cf. note 11 here.

2. Cf. for example La voix et lepMnomine (Paris, PUF, 1967), p. 94, n. l Speech, andPhenomena,
trans. David B. Allison, (Northwestern University Press, 1973), p. 84, n. 1. This note develops
the implications of Husserl's sentence: "We can only say that this /lux is something which we name
in conformity with what is constituted, but is nothing temporally 'objective.' It is absolute subjectivity
and has the absolute properties of something to be denoted metaphorically as 'flux,' as a point of
actuality, primal source-point, that from which springs the 'now,' and so on. In the lived experience
ofactuality, we have the primal source-point and a continuity of moments of reverberation
For all this, names are lacking." The note ends with: "There is no constituting
subjectivity. The very concept of constitution must be deconstructed."

3. Cf. Ego Sum (Paris, Flammarion, 1975).

4. Cf. "Forcener le subjectile" in Antonin Artaud: Portraits et Dessins (Paris, Gallimard, 1986).

5. Cf. 0/Spirit, pp. 27 75, sq. and PsycM, p. 415 sq.

6. Cf. "Desistance", preface to the American translation of Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe's Typography,
ed. C. Fynsk (Harvard University Press, 1989).

7. Cf. "My Chances" in Taking Chances, trans. A. Ronell and I. Harvey (Johns Hopkins University

Press, 1984).

8. Cf. Limited Inc., trans. Samuel Weber (Northwestern University Press, 1988).

9. L'expirience de la liberte (Paris, Galilee, 1988).

10. Cf. also, for example, The Truth in Painting, trans. G. Bennington (The University of Chicago
Press, 1987), p. 286: "Unless Heidegger
ignores (excludes? forecloses? denies? leaves implicit?
unthoughl?) an other problematic of the subject, for example
in a displacement or development of
the value "fetish." Unless, therefore, this question of the subjectum is displaced olhenouse, outside
the problematic of truth
and speech which governs The Origin

11. On the question, cf. O/Spirit: Heidegger and the Question, passim; on the "yes, yes," cf. "Otobiogra-
phies," trans, A. Ronell in The Ear of the Other, ed. C. McDonald (Lincoln: University of Nebraska
Press, 1989), and "A Number of Yes," trans. B. Holmes in Qui Park, vol. 2, no. 2 (Berkeley,
1988), pp. 120-33; on "viens," cf. "Psyche: Inventions de l'autre" in the volume of the same name
(Paris: Galilee, 1989), pp. 11--62, and Parages (Paris: Galilee, 1988).

12. Cf. ''The Politics of Friendship," trans. G. Motzkin in The Journal of Philosophy (1988) pp. 632

13. M. Blanchot, Uamitii (Paris: Gallimard, 1971), p. 328. Cf. also Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative
Community, trans. P. Connor (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming), and M.
Blanchot, The Unavvowable Community, trans. P. Joris (New York: Station Hill Press, 1988).

14. Hitler himself did not offer his vegetarian practices as an example. This fascinating exception,
can be integrated into the hypothesis I am evoking here. A certain reactive andcompulsive
vegetarianism is always inscribed, in the name of denegration, inversion or repression, in the
history of cannibalism. What is the limit between
coprophagy and Hitler's notorious coprophilia?
(See Helm Stierlin, Adolf Hitler, psychologie
de groupefamilial [Paris: PUF, 1975], p. 41). I refer
the reader to Rene Major's valuable contribution {De I'iUction [Paris: Aubier, 1986], p. 166, n.
1). JD.

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