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Animal Others: On Ethics, Ontology, and…

Animal Others: On Ethics, Ontology, and Animal Life

by H. Peter Steeves (Editor), Tom Regan (Foreword)

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No time for a thorough review. I can only quote a few favorite passages and also praise this collection for doing everything a philosophical animal studies book should do. It's phenemenological, ethical, engaged with 'real world' situations--the circus, fear of bees--and all this before Derrida's body of work on animals had been translated. It also renders the failues of many later animal studies anthologies much less forgiveable: since this one got so much so right so early, there's no excuse, for example, for Representing Animals.

It's not perfect. Monika Langer's close reading of Nietzsche's animals in Thus Spake Zaruthustra takes us nowhere: Nietzsche's antifoundationalism fails when it comes to the human itself: okay, I get it; William McNeill gives us a thorough exegesis of the abyssal, purportedly non-hierarchical distinction between the mode of being of animal and dasein, but can't rescue Heidegger from traditionalist preservation of human/animal difference; and precisely because he gets much right on the symbiosis of the human subject with internal and external life, Alfonso Lingis disappoints me (again), this time with his nostalgia for "animal irresponsibility" (47) (and his concominant sadness and nostalgic for authentic bodily being when he decries the Internet for reducing things "to digitally coded messages" (49))

But so many highlights! David Wood, "Comment ne pas manger -- Deconstruction and Humanism," which takes Derrida to task for effacing distinction between real and symbolic killing: "Vegetarianism, like any progressive position, can become a finite symbolic substitute for an unlimited and undelimitable responsibility--the renegotiation of our Being-toward-other-animals" (32), but, as he argues, it doesn't necessarily have to fail in this way. Elizabeth A. Behnke, "From Meleau-Ponty's Concept of Nature to an Interspecies Practice of Peace," "a type of situation in which a particular shift in bodily comportment simultaneously transforms the situation from a spectacle that I confront (and attempt to dominate from the outside) to a co-situatedness, a situation of which I myself am a part and in whose dynamics I am always already participating, whether I realize it or not" (96), a way of thinking being that should be very familiar to us by now, but that, again, strikes me for being so early. See also H. Peter Steeves "They Say that Animals Can Smell Fear": "Only the misguided Liberal Self sees hell as other creatures, sees relations as chains. Being is being-with" (145); Carleton Dallery, "Into the Truth with Animals," truth is not exclusively something of seriousness, order, gravity, burden, or abstraction....Could laughter, senses, colors, movement, sociality, magic, danger, and discipline all be brought back into our concern for truth and ultimacy and Being?" (259), and the introduction, too, "There has never been a neutral space of meeting! No space is neutral. No space is empty either" (8). This increasingly looks less groundbreaking... ( )
  karl.steel | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steeves, H. PeterEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Regan, TomForewordmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0791443108, Paperback)

Animal Others brings together original contributions that explore the status of animals from the continental philosophy perspective. Examined are the moral status of animals, the question of animal minds, an understanding of what it is to be an animal and what it is to be with an animal, as well as the roles animals play in the work of philosophers such as Husserl, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Merleau-Ponty, and Derrida. Those already immersed in continental philosophy will find the subject matter of the animal to be a new interest and a promising new venture. Analytic philosophers and other academics will be rewarded by a different approach to old questions, while the general reader interested in animal rights issues will discover new arguments to back up their positions and fresh challenges which may question long-held beliefs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:20 -0400)

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