Environmental Philosophy

Volume 16, Issue 1, Spring 2019

Reading Derrida’s The Beast and the Sovereign

Apple Igrek
Pages 181-199

Prosthetic Figures
The Wolf, the Marionette, the Specter

There are two concepts of sovereignty in Derrida’s work: the classical form that posits itself as absolute mastery, whether by means of surveillance, technology, or “truth”; and the more paradoxical, subversive form inspired by Nietzsche and Bataille that simultaneously inhabits and exceeds the control mechanisms imposed upon it. One of the questions that I will pursue throughout this essay is whether such a distinction is valid. As there is something immeasurable apropos of Derrida’s second concept, I will contend that any distinction between it and the first concept is not only “undecidable” but ultimately impossible to make.