Tangents and Metonymies in Derrida’s “On Touching–Jean-Luc Nancy”

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At a distance of more ten years from publication (2000 French/2005 English translation), with this essay I will re-read, comment and discuss, in different way and in form of anthological sketch, the Derridean volume ‘On Touching-Jean Luc Nancy’, focusing in particular on its ‘tangents and its metonymies’, its manifold entanglements with the metaphysics of touch and bodily connections. Making use of the geometrical figure of the tangent, Derrida affirms that "[if] philosophy has touched the limit [my emphasis-J. D. ]. of the ontology of subjectivity, this is because philosophy has been led to this limit”. To touch is to touch a limit, a limit without depth or surface. How have we regarded touching in the past? The body? My thesis is that if Derridean reflection remains mostly anchored to Jean-Luc Nancy’s Corpus, it is inspired nevertheless by a different deconstructive gesture/s similar to different geometric tangents (the deconstructive practice is similar to the tracing of many tangents). Discussing in particular Nancy’s Dis-Enclosure: The Deconstruction of Christianity, Derrida’essay ‘Deconstruction of Christianity’ and devoting an entire section of the book to the sense of touch in the Gospels, Derrida gives us numerous and special considerations on deconstruction and the deconstruction of touch in Christianity, admitting as well the enormity of this task. A reflection on the Kas Saghafi, “Safe, Intact”: Derrida, Nancy, and the “Deconstruction of Christianity” will follow in an exemplary way. Following a discussion of touch and the body in both animal and human spheres, in the closing section of the essay, I will comment on the Patrick Llored’s essay A Philosophy of Touching Between the Human and the Animal: The Animal Ethics of Jacques Derrida, recently published in A Companion to Derrida (2014). This study addresses highly topical questions such as: ‘What does it teach us about touch, but also about the body and the life of the animal? To what extent is it capable of renewing our knowledge [connaissance] of non-human life and of generating an animal ethics reconceived from top to bottom? If touching is coextensive with the living body, that implies not only that we place the haptical question at the centre of reflection on the animal, but also that we take into account the consequence that is most disruptive for us today (A Companion, p. 512). And conclude along with Patrick Llored that the question of touch promises to transform everything we have understood until now about animality.
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