And now for the descriptions, from left to right, top to bottom (taken from Amazon):
1. Acts of Religion by Jacques Derrida
“Is there, today,” asks Jacques Derrida, “another ‘question of religion’?” Derrida’s writings on religion situate and raise anew questions of tradition, faith, and sacredness and their relation to philosophy and political culture. He has amply testified to his growing up in an Algerian Jewish, French-speaking family, to the complex impact of a certain Christianity on his surroundings and himself, and to his being deeply affected by religious persecution. Religion has made demands on Derrida, and, in turn, the study of religion has benefited greatly from his extensive philosophical contributions to the field.
Acts of Religion brings together for the first time Derrida’s key writings on religion, along with two new essays translated by Gil Anidjar that appear here for the first time in any language. These eight texts are organized around the secret holding of links between the personal, the political, and the theological. In these texts, Derrida’s reflections on religion span from negative theology to the limits of reason and to hospitality.
Acts of Religion will serve as an excellent introduction to Derrida’s remarkable contribution to religious studies.
2. Rogues: Two Essays on Reason by Jacques Derrida
Rogues, published in France under the title Voyous, comprises two major lectures that Derrida delivered in 2002 investigating the foundations of the sovereignty of the nation-state. The term “État voyou” is the French equivalent of “rogue state,” and it is this outlaw designation of certain countries by the leading global powers that Derrida rigorously and exhaustively examines.
Derrida examines the history of the concept of sovereignty, engaging with the work of Bodin, Hobbes, Rousseau, Schmitt, and others. Against this background, he delineates his understanding of “democracy to come,” which he distinguishes clearly from any kind of regulating ideal or teleological horizon. The idea that democracy will always remain in the future is not a temporal notion. Rather, the phrase would name the coming of the unforeseeable other, the structure of an event beyond calculation and program. Derrida thus aligns this understanding of democracy with the logic he has worked out elsewhere. But it is not just political philosophy that is brought under deconstructive scrutiny here: Derrida provides unflinching and hard-hitting assessments of current political realities, and these essays are highly engaged with events of the post-9/11 world.
3. Points: Interviews — 1974-1994 by Jacques Derrida
This volume collects 23 interviews given over the course of the last two decades by the author. It illustrates the extraordinary breadth of the Derrida’s concerns, touching upon such subjects as AIDS, philosophy, sexual difference and feminine identity, the media, politics, and nationalism.
4. The Beast and the Sovereign, Vol. 1 by Jacques Derrida
When he died in 2004, Jacques Derrida left behind a vast legacy of unpublished material, much of it in the form of written lectures. With The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, the University of Chicago Press inaugurates an ambitious series, edited by Geoffrey Bennington and Peggy Kamuf, translating these important works into English.
The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1 launches the series with Derrida’s exploration of the persistent association of bestiality or animality with sovereignty. In this seminar from 2001–2002, Derrida continues his deconstruction of the traditional determinations of the human. The beast and the sovereign are connected, he contends, because neither animals nor kings are subject to the law—the sovereign stands above it, while the beast falls outside the law from below. He then traces this association through an astonishing array of texts, including La Fontaine’s fable “The Wolf and the Lamb,” Hobbes’s biblical sea monster in Leviathan, D. H. Lawrence’s poem “Snake,” Machiavelli’s Prince with its elaborate comparison of princes and foxes, a historical account of Louis XIV attending an elephant autopsy, and Rousseau’s evocation of werewolves in The Social Contract.
Deleuze, Lacan, and Agamben also come into critical play as Derrida focuses in on questions of force, right, justice, and philosophical interpretations of the limits between man and animal.
5. Politics of Friendship by Jacques Derrida
The most influential of contemporary philosophers explores the idea of friendship and its political consequences. “O, my friends, there is no friend.” The most influential of contemporary philosophers explores the idea of friendship and its political consequences, past and future.
Until relatively recently, Jacques Derrida was seen by many as nothing more than the high priest of Deconstruction, by turns stimulating and fascinating, yet always somewhat disengaged from the central political questions of our time. Or so it seemed. Derrida’s “political turn,” marked especially by the appearance of Specters of Marx, has surprised some and delighted others. In The Politics of Friendship Derrida renews and enriches this orientation through an examination of the political history of the idea of friendship pursued down the ages.
Derrida’s thoughts are haunted throughout the book by the strange and provocative address attributed to Aristotle, “my friends, there is no friend” and its inversions by later philosophers such as Montaigne, Kant, Nietzsche, Schmitt and Blanchot. The exploration allows Derrida to recall and restage the ways in which all the oppositional couples of Western philosophy and political thought—friendship and enmity, private and public life — have become madly and dangerously unstable. At the same time he dissects genealogy itself, the familiar and male-centered notion of fraternity and the virile virtue whose authority has gone unquestioned in our culture of friendship and our models of democracy
The future of the political, for Derrida, becomes the future of friends, the invention of a radically new friendship, of a deeper and more inclusive democracy. This remarkable book, his most profoundly important for many years, offers a challenging and inspiring vision of that future.
That’s a lot of Derrida, isn’t it? If you’re not familiar with Derrida, then maybe you should take a look at some of his work. I’d recommend The Animal That Therefore I Am, which I think is one of his easier texts and has a lot of very interesting ideas about the relationship between man and animal (specifically, the artificial divide we’ve created). I also just finished reading Rogues, which was really interesting, if not a little dense and difficult to understand at times.
Whether you’re new to Derrida or not, are some of these books of interest to you? Let me know in the comments.