Book Chapter

The law of autoimmunity


The Politics of Friendship is a seminal text within the apparent ‘ethical turn’ in Jacques Derrida’s work, in which it has been argued that ‘the social and the political,’ and the ‘ethical and juridical,’ became the focus of his attention. However, Derrida’s own thoughts on this ‘turn’ render it dubious as an accurate description of his oeuvre. And yet, contestation over the ‘ethical turn’ aside, The Politics of Friendship does illustrate Derrida’s thoughts on various juridico-political concepts: in particular his critical account of ‘the political’ (in French, le politique) which was so prominent in his work of the 1980s. This chapter concentrates on this aspect of Derrida’s work. This chapter also reads the works published under the name The Politics of Friendship as representing Derrida’s entire, ‘collected,’ 1988–89 seminar series Politiques de l’amitié. Whilst this is perhaps an unorthodox reading of Derrida’s work – which will be explored below – it provides initial support for this chapter’s two theses (PF, vii). The first is that The Politics of Friendship, qua the 1988–89 seminar series Politiques de l’amitié, houses the inaugural appearances of the concept of ‘autoimmunity’ in Derrida’s work. The second thesis is then that these appearances are best explained not by reference to ‘biological or physiological’ readings of autoimmunity but rather by readings which acknowledge the juridico-political themes which have, for millennia, been attached to the concept of immunity.

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Lloyd, Chris

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Law


Year of publication: 2022
Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-05-10

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This RADAR resource is Part of Derrida's Politics of Friendship [ISBN: 9781474486736] / edited by Luke Collison, Cillian Ó Fathaigh, Georgios Tsagdis (Edinburgh UP, 2022).


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