Technologies of Life and Death: From Cloning to Capital Punishment

By Kelly Oliver | Go to book overview

NOTES

INTRODUCTION: MORAL MACHINES AND POLITICAL ANIMALS

1. For general discussions of Derrida and technology and discussions of particular technologies in Derrida, see Clough 2000, Lafontaine 2007, Naas 2010 (he discusses photography), and Prenowtiz 2008 (he discusses the telephone).

2. Indeed, in his later work, Derrida talks about the proximity of Christian fundamentalism’s abhorrence of abortion and insistence on capital punishment. This contradiction between advocating life at all costs in one instance, and death at all costs in another, and the invocation of God to justify both, brings together what Derrida describes as the operations of miracle and machine in what too often becomes a deadly embrace (see “Faith and Knowledge,” Derrida 2002a; see also Naas 2012).

Like a machine, and now relying on various machines or technologies, religion churns out moral slogans to justify everything from bombing abortion clinics or the World Trade Center, to occupying entire countries through military dominance—all justified through appeals to God. Can the deconstruction machine take on the religion machine? And what would it mean to turn a deconstructive strategy onto religion through new technologies of life and death that also employ science to justify the so-called moral high ground? In “Faith and Knowledge,” Derrida argues that science and religion are driven by the same machine, namely, revelation. Religion asks us to accept what we do not see on the faith that it will someday be revealed. Science asks us to accept what we do not see on the knowledge that even now it is being revealed to us. Whether we choose to look through the microscope of science or the lace-veil of religion, we cannot avoid either technology or God, even if they take different forms.

3. There are several works that discuss the machine in Derrida and/or use Derrida’s concept of the machine, including Naas 2009 and 2012, Barker 1999, Bass 2006, Critchley 1999, De Ville 2009, Johnson 2008, Lucy 2001, Luke 2003,

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