31.1 | Dawne McCance

Specters of Animals


This essay takes its point of departure from the theme of “learning to live” that Jacques Derrida
addresses both in the “Exordium” to Specters of Marx and in his last interview, Learning to Live Finally. For Derrida, I suggest, to learn to live means “to learn to live with ghosts,” in response and with responsibility to the countless animal specters who, particularly over the past three hundred years, have suffered and continue to suffer and die under the Western tradition’s man/animal, mind/body, self/other, life/death oppositional logic. Learning to live comes to us as an injunction to inherit the Western tradition in a way other than its binary, oppositional terms. The essay explores Derrida’s contention that “to learn to live with ghosts”—whether they are already dead or not yet born—means to learn to live otherwise, more justly, with animals.