Riddles of the body: Derrida and Hegel on corporeality and signs

Continental Philosophy Review:1-18 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Proper attention to the theme of corporeality is crucial for understanding Derrida’s analysis of Hegel in “The Pit and the Pyramid.” This article argues that Derrida’s essay compels us to face the impossibility of giving a wholly coherent account of embodiment. The Aufhebung supposedly unites the exteriority of the corporeal with interiority in a higher unity that cancels and preserves them both; Hegel’s own text reveals, however, that meaning is primordially absent from the body that was thought to incarnate it. And it is this absence of ideal meaning that is originary: Differance conditions the body as it conditions speech, rendering the body other than itself such that it is not categorizable as flesh that is the self or as an object that is not the self. I am and am not my body because the dichotomy between interiority and exteriority breaks down even at the level of the body. Indeed, I am and am not my self; the embodied self is disrupted from the start, never self-contained. Thus embodiment always already testifies to the other.

Author's Profile

Sarah Horton
Boston College (PhD)

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