All Thoughts Are Equal is both an introduction to the work of French philosopher François Laruelle and an exercise in nonhuman thinking. For Laruelle, standard forms of philosophy continue to dominate our models of what counts as exemplary thought and knowledge. By contrast, what Laruelle calls his “non-standard” approach attempts to bring democracy into thought, because all forms of thinking—including the nonhuman—are equal.
John Ó Maoilearca examines how philosophy might appear when viewed with non-philosophical and nonhuman eyes. He does so by refusing to explain Laruelle through orthodox philosophy, opting instead to follow the structure of a film (Lars von Trier’s documentary The Five Obstructions) as an example of the non-standard method. Von Trier’s film is a meditation on the creative limits set by film, both technologically and aesthetically, and how these limits can push our experience of film—and of ourselves—beyond what is normally deemed “the perfect human.”
All Thoughts Are Equal adopts film’s constraints in its own experiment by showing how Laruelle’s radically new style of philosophy is best presented through our most nonhuman form of thought—that found in cinema.
Ron Broglio University of Minnesota Press, 2022 Library of Congress QL85.B755 2022 | Dewey Decimal 591
Why our failure to consider the power of animals is to our deep detriment
Animals are staging a revolution—they’re just not telling us. From radioactive boar invading towns to jellyfish disarming battleships, this book threads together news accounts and more in a powerful and timely work of creative, speculative nonfiction that imagines a revolution stirring and asks how humans can be a part of it. If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we should pay attention to how we bump up against animal worlds and how animals will push back. Animal Revolution is a passionate, provocative, cogent call for us to do so.
Ron Broglio reveals how fur and claw and feather and fin are jamming the gears of our social machine. We can try to frame such disruptions as environmental intervention or through the lens of philosophy or biopolitics, but regardless the animals persist beyond our comprehension in reminding us that we too are part of an animal world. Animals see our technologies and machines as invasive beings and, in a nonlinguistic but nonetheless intensive mode of communicating with us, resist our attempts to control them and diminish their habitats. In doing so, they expose the environmental injustices and vulnerabilities in our systems.
A witty, informative, and captivating work—at the juncture of posthumanism, animal studies, phenomenology, and environmental studies—Broglio reminds us of our inadequacy as humans, not our exceptionalism.
Most approaches to animal ethics ground the moral standing of nonhumans in some appeal to their capacities for intelligent autonomy or mental sentience. Corporal Compassion emphasizes the phenomenal and somatic commonality of living beings; a philosophy of body that seeks to displace any notion of anthropomorphic empathy in viewing the moral experiences of nonhuman living beings. Ralph R. Acampora employs phenomenology, hermeneutics, existentialism and deconstruction to connect and contest analytic treatments of animal rights and liberation theory. In doing so, he focuses on issues of being and value, and posits a felt nexus of bodily being, termed symphysis, to devise an interspecies ethos. Acampora uses this broad-based bioethic to engage in dialogue with other strains of environmental ethics and ecophilosophy.
Corporal Compassion examines the practical applications of the somatic ethos in contexts such as laboratory experimentation and zoological exhibition and challenges practitioners to move past recent reforms and look to a future beyond exploitation or total noninterference--a posthumanist culture that advocates caring in a participatory approach.
Animal Studies is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field devoted to examining, understanding, and critically evaluating the complex relationships between humans and
other animals. Scholarship in Animal Studies draws on a variety of methodologies to explore these multi-faceted relationships in order to help us understand the ways in which other animals figure in our lives and we in theirs.
Bringing together the work of a group of internationally distinguished scholars, the contribution in Critical Terms for Animal Studies offers distinct voices and diverse perspectives, exploring significant concepts and asking important questions. How do we take non-human animals seriously, not simply as metaphors for human endeavors, but as subjects themselves? What do we mean by anthropocentrism, captivity, empathy, sanctuary, and vulnerability, and what work do these and other critical terms do in Animal Studies?
Sure to become an indispensable reference for the field, Critical Terms for Animal Studies not only provides a framework for thinking about animals as subjects of their own experiences, but also serves as a touchstone to help us think differently about our conceptions of what it means to be human, and the impact human activities have on the more than human world.
Fragments for a History of a Vanishing Humanism brings together scholars working in prehistoric, classical, medieval, and early modern studies who are developing, from longer and slower historical perspectives, critical post/humanisms that explore: 1) the significance (historical, sociocultural, psychic, etc.) of human expression and affectivity; 2) the impact of technology and new sciences on what it means to be a human self; 3) the importance of art and literature in defining and enacting human selves; 4) the importance of history in defining the human; 5) the artistic plasticity of the human; 6) the question of a human collectivity—what is the value, and peril, of “being human” or “being post/human” together?; and finally, 7) the constructive, and destructive, relations (aesthetic, historical, and philosophical) of the human to the nonhuman.
This volume, edited by Myra Seaman and Eileen A. Joy, insists on the always provisional and contingent formations of the human, and of various humanisms, over time, while also aiming to demonstrate the different ways these formations emerge (and also disappear) in different times and places, from the most ancient past to the most contemporary present. The essays are offered as “fragments” because the authors do not believe there can ever be a “total history” of either the human or the post/human as they play themselves out in differing historical contexts. At the same time, the volume as a whole argues that defining what “the human” (or “post/human”) is has always been an ongoing, never finished cultural project.
What exactly is the human element separating humans from animals and machines? The common answers that immediately come to mind—like art, empathy, or technology—fall apart under close inspection. Dominic Pettman argues that it is a mistake to define such rigid distinctions in the first place, and the most decisive “human error” may be the ingrained impulse to understand ourselves primarily in contrast to our other worldly companions.
In Human Error, Pettman describes the three sides of the cybernetic triangle—human, animal, and machine—as a rubric for understanding key figures, texts, and sites where our species-being is either reinforced or challenged by our relationship to our own narcissistic technologies. Consequently, species-being has become a matter of specious-being, in which the idea of humanity is not only a case of mistaken identity but indeed the mistake of identity.
Human Error boldly insists on the necessity of relinquishing our anthropomorphism but also on the extreme difficulty of doing so, given how deeply this attitude is bound with all our other most cherished beliefs about forms of life.
From the first cave paintings to Britta Jaschinski's provocative animal photography, it seems we have been describing and portraying animals, in some form or another, for as long as we have been human. This book provides a broad historical overview of our representations of animals, from prehistory to postmodernity, and how those representations have altered with changing social conditions.
Taking in a wide range of visual and textual materials, Linda Kalof unearths many surprising and revealing examples of our depictions of animals. She also examines animals in a broad sweep of literature, narrative and criticism: from Pliny the Elder’s Natural History to Donna Haraway’s writings on animal–human–machine interaction; and from accounts of the Black Plague and histories of the domestic animal and zoos, to the ways that animal stereotypes have been applied to people to highlight hierarchies of gender, race and class.
Well-researched and scholarly, yet very accessible, this book is a significant contribution to the human–animal story. Featuring more than 60 images, Looking at Animals in Human History brings together a wealth of information that will appeal to the wide audience interested in animals, as well as to specialists in many disciplines.
Linda Kalof is professor of sociology at Michigan State University. Her books include The Earthscan Reader in Environmental Values and The Animals Reader: The Essential Classic and Contemporary Writings.
The boundaries between human and beast forged a rugged philosophical landscape across early modern England. Spectators gathered in London's Bear Garden to watch the callous and brutal baiting of animals. A wave of "new" scientists performed vivisections on live animals to learn more about the human body.
In Perceiving Animals, the British scholar Erica Fudge traces the dangers and problems of anthropocentrism in texts written from 1558 to 1649. Meticulous examinations of scientific, legal, political, literary, and religious writings offer unique and fascinating depictions of human perceptions about the natural world.
Views carried over from bestiaries--medieval treatises on animals--
posited animals as nonsentient beings whose merits were measured solely by what provisions they afforded humans: food, medicine, clothing, travel, labor, scientific knowledge. Without consciences or faith, animals were deemed far inferior to humans.
While writings from the period asserted an enormous biological superiority, Fudge contends actual human behavior and logic worked, sometimes accidentally, to close the alleged gap. In the Bear Garden, even a man of the lowest social rank had power over a tortured animal, sinking him, though, below the beasts. The beast fable itself fails to show a true understanding of animals, as it merely attributes human characteristics to beasts in an attempt to teach humanist ideals. Scholars and writers continually turned to the animal world for reflection. Despite this, scientists of the period used animals for empirical and medical knowledge, recognizing biological and spiritual similarities but refusing to renege human superiority.
Including an insightful reexamination of Ben Jonson's Volpone and fascinating looks at works by Francis Bacon, Edward Coke, and Richard Overton, among others, Fudge probes issues of animal ownership and biological and spiritual superiority in early modern England that resonate with philosophical quandaries still relevant in contemporary society.
Animals, as Lévi-Strauss wrote, are good to think with. This collection addresses and reassesses the variety of ways in which animals were used and thought about in Renaissance culture, challenging contemporary as well as historic views of the boundaries and hierarchies humans presume the natural world to contain.
Taking as its starting point the popularity of speaking animals in sixteenth-century literature and ending with the decline of the imperial Ménagerie during the French Revolution, Renaissance Beasts uses the lens of human-animal relationships to view issues as diverse as human status and power, diet, civilization and the political life, religion and anthropocentrism, spectacle and entertainment, language, science and skepticism, and domestic and courtly cultures.
Within these pages scholars from a variety of disciplines discuss numerous kinds of texts--literary, dramatic, philosophical, religious, political--by writers including Calvin, Montaigne, Sidney, Shakespeare, Descartes, Boyle, and Locke. Through analysis of these and other writers, Renaissance Beasts uncovers new and arresting interpretations of Renaissance culture and the broader social assumptions glimpsed through views on matters such as pet ownership and meat consumption.
Renaissance Beasts is certainly about animals, but of the many species discussed, it is ultimately humankind that comes under the greatest scrutiny.
Spanish Thinking about Animals
Margarita Carretero-González Michigan State University Press, 2020 Library of Congress HV4846.S63 2020 | Dewey Decimal 179.30946
Traditional cultural practices involving animals are being seriously questioned, heavily regulated, and, in some cases, even abolished in Spain. This essential and timely text brings together prominent scholars working in the ever-expanding field of animal studies in Spain, drawing from a variety of disciplines within the humanities and social sciences to provide an interdisciplinary look at the animal question. In choosing an angle to approach the study of ethical, aesthetic considerations, and cultural representations of animals, this collection moves away from the ideology of human exceptionalism that is still predominant but progressively losing force in the field of animal ethics in Spain. It instead includes contributions by scholars who have chosen to look at animals, to a lesser or greater degree, through an antispeciesist lens, displaying the committed attention to and respect for animal life that characterizes critical animal studies.
What it is like to be an animal? Ron Broglio wants to know from the inside, from underneath the fur and feathers. In examining this question, he bypasses the perspectives of biology or natural history to explore how one can construct an animal phenomenology, to think and feel as an animal other—or any other.
Until now phenomenology has grappled with how humans are embedded in their world. According to philosophical tradition, animals do not practice the self-reflexive thought that provides humans with depth of being. Without human interiority, philosophers have believed, animals live on the surface of things. But, Broglio argues, the surface can be a site of productive engagement with the world of animals, and as such he turns to humans who work with surfaces: contemporary artists.
Taking on the negative claim of animals living only on the surface and turning the premise into a positive set of possibilities for human–animal engagement, Broglio considers artists—including Damien Hirst, Carolee Schneemann, Olly and Suzi, and Marcus Coates—who take seriously the world of the animal on its own terms. In doing so, these artists develop languages of interspecies expression that both challenge philosophy and fashion new concepts for animal studies.
Collected essays by a leading philosopher situating the question of the animal in the broader context of a relational ontology
There is a revolution under way in our thinking about animals and, indeed, life in general, particularly in the West. The very words man, animal, and life have turned into flimsy conceptual husks—impediments to thinking about the issues in which they are embroiled. David Wood was a founding member of the early 1970s Oxford Group of philosophers promoting animal rights; he also directed Ecology Action (UK). Thinking Plant Animal Human is the first collection of this major philosopher’s influential essays on “animals,” bringing together his many discussions of nonhuman life, including the classic “Thinking with Cats.”
Exploring our connections with cats, goats, and sand crabs, Thinking Plant Animal Human introduces the idea of “kinnibalism” (the eating of mammals is eating our own kin), reflects on the idea of homo sapiens, and explores the place of animals both in art and in children’s stories. Finally, and with a special focus on trees, the book delves into remarkable contemporary efforts to rescue plants from philosophical neglect and to rethink and reevaluate their status. Repeatedly bubbling to the surface is the remarkable strangeness of other forms of life, a strangeness that extends to the human.
Wood shows that the best way of resisting simplistic classification is to attend to our manifold relationships with other living beings. It is not anthropocentric to focus on such relationships; they cast light in complex ways on the living communities of which we are part, and exploring them recoils profoundly on our understanding of ourselves.
The French philosopher Renaud Barbaras remarked that late in Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s career, “The phenomenology of perception fulfills itself as a philosophy of expression.” In Tracing Expression in Merleau-Ponty: Aesthetics, Philosophy of Biology, and Ontology, Véronique M. Fótiaddresses the guiding yet neglected theme of expression in Merleau-Ponty’s thought. She traces Merleau-Ponty’s ideas about how individuals express creative or artistic impulses through his three essays on aesthetics, his engagement with animality and the “new biology” in the second of his lecture courses on nature of 1957–58, and in his late ontology, articulated in 1964 in the fragmentary text of Le visible et l’invisible (The Visible and the Invisible). With the exception of a discussion of Merleau-Ponty’s 1945 essay “Cezanne’s Doubt,” Fóti engages with Merleau-Ponty’s late and final thought, with close attention to both his scientific and philosophical interlocutors, especially the continental rationalists. Expression shows itself, in Merleau-Ponty’s thought, to be primordial, and this innate and fundamental nature of expression has implications for his understanding of artistic creation, science, and philosophy.