published on August 31, 2019
From Neutral Dasein to a Gentle Twofold
Sexual Difference in Heidegger and Derrida
This paper attempts to situate Derrida’s newly discovered Geschlecht III in the four-part series Derrida dedicated to the question of sexual difference in Heidegger. Taking its point of departure from an interview conducted two years prior to Geschlecht I, the paper retraces Derrida’s itinerary toward the culminating point of the Geschlecht series, Geschlecht III, the “magnet” that orients and attracts the other three. I argue that Derrida’s initial enthusiasm for a Heideggerian “pre-dual sexuality” in Geschlecht I is significantly tempered by Derrida’s meticulous reading of Heidegger in Geschlecht III, where his reservations vis-à-vis Heidegger’s neutralization of sexual difference become all the more serious and explicit. As I show, Derrida’s “dream” of a “doubly asymmetrical” sexual relation to the other remains incompatible with the sexual gentleness Heidegger imagines between brother and sister, an ultimately Christian incest that will yet again threaten to neutralize and erase the more radical sexual difference Derrida is trying to think.