published on May 1, 2020
From the Ashes
The Phoenix Motif in Derrida’s Geschlecht III
This paper tracks Derrida’s allusion to the “phoenix motif” in the recently published Life Death seminar, showing how it foreshadows and overlaps with the political problematic of “national humanism” made explicit in Geschlecht III. I argue that, be it in Hegel, Fichte, Nietzsche, or Heidegger, biological life is always in the service of a spiritual life that finds its breath in a certain reappropriation of the German idiom. Following Derrida, I argue that this “philosophy-of-life German” (cet allemand philosophe de la vie) introduces a sinister equivocality between these thinkers and National Socialism, and this in spite of all their prudence to shield their discourses from such a co-option.