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Death Penalty (Vol 2) (Hardcover) (Jacques Derrida)

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In the first volume of his extraordinary analysis of death penalty discourse, Jacques Derrida began a journey toward an ambitious end: the first truly philosophical argument against the death penalty. Exploring an impressive breadth of thought, he unveiled a deeply entrenched logic throughout the whole of Western philosophy that has justified the state’s right to take a life. He also unveiled literature as a crucial place where this logic has been most effectively challenged. In this second and final volume, Derrida picks up where he left off, more deeply exploring key texts in order to elucidate the first volume’s nascent ideas and arrive at a definitive argument that shows just how profoundly unjust the death penalty is.
Of central importance to Derrida in this second volume is Kant’s explicit justification of the death penalty in the Metaphysics of Morals. Thoroughly deconstructing Kant’s position—which holds the death penalty as exemplary of the eye-for-an-eye Talionic Law—Derrida exposes numerous damning contradictions and exceptions. Keeping current death-penalty discourse in the United States in view, he further explores the “anesthesial logic” he analyzed in volume one, addressing the themes of cruelty and pain through texts by Robespierre, Freud, and—in a fascinating, improvised final session—the nineteenth-century Spanish Catholic thinker Donoso Cortés. Ultimately, Derrida shows that the rationality of the death penalty as represented by Kant involves an imposition of knowledge and calculability on a fundamental condition of non-knowledge—that we don’t otherwise know what or when our deaths will be. In this way, the death penalty robs the condemned of death itself, one of the most meaningful aspects of our being.
Derrida’s thoughts arrive at a threshold in history: when the death penalty in the United States is the closest it has ever been to abolition, and yet when the arguments on all sides are as confused as ever. His powerful analysis will prove to be a paramount contribution to death penalty discourse as well as a lasting entry in his celebrated oeuvre.
Number of Pages: 304
Genre: Philosophy, Literary Criticism
Series Title: Seminars of Jacques Derrida
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
Volume number: 2
Author: Jacques Derrida
Language: English
Street Date: May 26, 2017
TCIN: 51765278
UPC: 9780226410821
Item Number (DPCI): 248-32-8855
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