Trace, Dissemination, ‘Survivre’: Derrida’s ‘Biology’ and the ‘Socius’

By Colm J. Kelly.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

There is no explicit philosophy of biology or evolution in Derrida, but many of his terms imply a sustained engagement with biological and evolutionary issues. For example, “dissemination” implies a rethinking of the concepts of reproduction and even of organism. Dissemination is the scattering of the seed, rather than its maturation and recuperation into itself. Self-dissemination instead of self-reproduction would be the ‘slogan’ of Derrida’s biology. The notion of survivre (survival or living on) implies a re-evaluation of life and death and the relationship between them, where life and death are no longer thought to be completely separable states of being and non-being. Once the biological resonances of central terms of Derrida have been elucidated, his entire body of work can then be interpreted, following the lead of Christopher Johnson, as an intervention in the history of life, where logocentric metaphysics and the cultures which inherit it are themselves a major aspect of the hominization of the ‘animal’, and where deconstruction is a mutation in this evolution. Finally, it will be shown that the problematic of biology implied in Derrida’s work can also be linked to an implied problematic of the ‘social’ in the same work, potentially leading to a radical re-thinking of what we mean by ‘society.’

Keywords: Derrida, Philosophy, Problematic of Biology, Problematic of the ‘Social’

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 12, pp.191-200. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 502.415KB).

Dr. Colm J. Kelly

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

Colm Kelly studied at Trinity College Dublin, and York University, Toronto. He is currently associate professor of sociology at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B. his main interests are in certain strands of contemporary continental philosophy, especially Levinas, Nancy, and more centrally, Derrida. Working from this tradition he attempts to re-think some of the major categories of social theory, especially the concept of the ‘social’ itself. He has published on topics in social theory, and cultural and literary theory.


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