Dialogue and Universalism

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1/2014

THE EXPERIENCE OF ANIMALITY

 

  EDITORIAL

 

  

EXPERIENCE OF ANIMALITY

   I would like to expound the reasons why we have decided to discuss in one issue the subject of animality in culture, ethics, philosophy, art and literature. Below I outline the cognitive interests, intellectual motivations, ethical reasons and practical effects that substantiate this issue.

   The main axis of this Dialogue and Universalism issue is the recognition of a yet another turn in the humanities. After the linguistic turn (30s to 70s) and the pictorial turn (70s to 90s), what follows next is what we only tentatively refer to as the animal turn. Our main task here is to determine what precisely animal turn is and what its further development might be.

   First of all we challenge the most important and most difficult question: animal policy. The presence or rather the absence of animals in politics, political and economic abuse of animals, and their widespread fetishization are a rather obvious part of our biopolitical reality. However, Nicole Shukin pervasively notices in her Animal Capital that while the theorists of biopower, Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben, have interrogated the increasingly total subsumption of the social and biological life of the anthropos to market logics; little attention has been given to what Shukin calls “animal capital.” Indeed, as Jacques Derrida remarks, the power to reduce humans to the bare life of their species’ body arguably presupposes the prior power to suspend other species in a state of exception within which they can be noncriminally put to death. For this reason, it is not enough to theorize biopower in relation to human life alone; the reproductive lives and labors of other species also become a matter of biopolitical calculation. Peter Sloterdijk writes that today life may depend only on itself. However, we have to ask: what is the life which depends only on itself? Is there a form of the biophilia? What is a critical project related to this life? Is it just a satirical act as suggested by Sloterdijk? I hope the section The Animal Ethics and Philosophy provides a basis for genuine discussions.

   I have been long conscious of a need of a new philosophy of nature in which nature is not an externality subjugated and tamed by man, but is an equal partner in debates, so to speak, endowed with the gift of speech. If we are privileged to hear it, are we also capable of providing it with the ways to be heard aloud? The section The Human-Animal Relationship goes in this direction, that is, it explores the conditions of co-existence of humans and animals, animals and angels, and angels and monsters alike. The main question that organizes our work in this field is whether discourse ethics should now include entities that initially seemed mute and were excluded from discussions.

   We need to establish a new ethic. By saying that I do not mean we only need to expand the concept of moral subject to include animals, or that we need to establish a legal basis for protecting animal rights. Even if the former and the latter are of practical importance and of political interest that what really awaits here is the revision of the project of ethics as such and the task of answering the question of non-anthropocentric ethics. We would like to consider the possibility of establishing a new ethic of life that would strive not so much to protect life, which would probably result in a new biopolitical regime, as it would strive to think over principles of co-existence and establish what is really common to all of the living.

   Andrew Linzey in his book Animal Theology instigated a large debate with one anxious question: what in fact is theology if it is developed only thanks to a moral neglect of a group of creatures constituting the vast majority in the world of living organisms? Indeed. The question, however, is whether the modern animal rights movement needs theology at all? And if so: what sort of theology is in demand? What is the place of animals in the hierarchy of God’s creation? The question is not limited to: whether the animals or the animal rights movement needs theology, but what theology needs animals? I hope to see the section Animals, Religion and Theology address these difficult and important issues and outline possible answers.

   Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari wrote ecstatically:

“We think and write for animals themselves. We become animal so that the animal also becomes something else. The agony of a rat or the slaughter of a calf remains present in thought not through pity but as the zone of exchange between man and animal in which something of one passes into the other.”

   But what does it exactly mean to “become animal so that the animal also becomes something else”? What does the difference mean: being a rat and identifying with a rat? I believe the above questions shall accompany us when discussing the section on visual arts Animals in Art and Culture.

   Since in the vast majority we are the representatives of the humanities, not natural science, we would like to consider the presence of animals in literature and philosophy, from Flaubert after Gombrowicz and from Thomas Aquinas to the Jean-Paul Sartre, to paraphrase the title of Mirosław Loba’s paper featured in this issue. The presence of animals in literature and philosophy is permanent, indelible and inescapable. There are animals of Nietzsche—a donkey, a camel, a lion. There are animals of Kafka—a mole, a worm, a mouse, and a butterfly. Perhaps every writer and every philosopher brings to existence their own animals. Kafka-Gnostic discovered by Harold Bloom joins Kafka-Taoist discovered by Elias Canetti. Kafka-mole is thus complemented with the figure of Kafka-butterfly. However, how should we understand the presence of animals in literature? Are they just metaphors of human characters, or do they reveal something more profound, a direction of human desires, or, in particular, a fantasy of transgressing humanity? We hope the section Animals in Literature will provide a basis for effective discussions.

   We raise no claims to completeness nor we intend to fully explore the issues at hand; we only claim that animality as such has been overlooked far too long and can no longer escape our thinking.


 Szymon Wróbel

 

 

 

 ABSTRACTS

 

Jacek Dobrowolski

MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE’S ATHEOLOGY OF ANIMALITY AS AN EXAMPLE OF EMANCIPATION TOOL FOR MODERN HUMANITY

   Diverse concepts of animality have played important role within the processes of modern secularisation and its anti-theological turn in the modern making of “man.” By turning the conceptual focus towards the animal side of human being, and specifically by describing and explaining “the human nature” in terms of its “animality,” modern philosophical anthropology has changed, gradually, into naturalistic, godless discourse of a purely material life. The discovery of the “animal in man,” its increasing impact through evolution theory eventually led to the denial of human supremacy. Since secularisation in its essence intends to emancipate humanity, it is interesting how animalisation can be related to emancipation. In the article Montaigne’s conception of animality is examined as an early case of this thinking.

Keywords: Montaigne; Hume; Rousseau; Sade; Nietzsche; atheology of animality; emancipation; animality; human nature; becoming animal; free will.

 

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy, University of Warsaw, ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 3, 00–047 Warszawa, Poland

Email: j.dobrowolski@uw.edu.pl

 

 

 

Jan Hartman

 ANIMALS ARE GOOD PEOPLE TOO

   The idea of my article is to challenge traditional ways of confronting animality with humanity. Either in order to define human superiority over animals and construct “man” as an “animal and something much more”, or in order to launch the idea of an animal as being less stupid than it has always been supposed to be, the comparison between humans and animals is concentrated on suppressing animality (in humans as superiors as well as in animals—as wrongly conceived to be “stupid”) and affirming humanity. This is a dialectic interplay of two related concepts of “man” and “beast” petrifying a false vision of common fate of people and animals. This kind of false consciousness makes animals and people badly interdependent. I claim that this mental figure should be overcome by applying the very category of “being human” to so (far) called “animals.”

Keywords: animals; humanity; animality; stupidity of animals; interplay; interdependency; being human.

 

Affiliation: Collegium Medicum, Jagiellonian University, ul. św. Anny 12, 31–008 Kraków, Poland

Email: jan.hartman@uj.edu.pl

 

 

 

Przemysław Kordos

TALKING ANIMALISH IN SCIENCE-FICTION CREATIONS. SOME THOUGHTS ON LITERARY ZOOMORPHISM

   I would like to point out an interesting technique in picturing the aliens in SF books and TV series. In order to differentiate the humans and the extraterrestrials, writers give the latter animal traits: they “talk animalish,” borrowing from the animal world elements that would serve as a way of describing what is not human. The first part of the below text presents some of the most popular animal aliens in the recent SF history. The second is concentrated on writings of China Miéville and Stanisław Lem. Miéville’s world, Bas-Lag, abounds in curious animal sentient races. The writer has defined in detail one more race, Ariekei, for the needs of his latest book. Lem, on the other hand, is a great and humorous theoretician of how they aliens would look like and what the ways we think about them are.

Keywords: talking animalish; science-fiction; zoomorphism; extraterrestrials; Miéville; Lem; alien races.

 

Affiliation: Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, University of Warsaw, ul. Nowy Świat 69, 00-046 Warszawa, Poland

Email: al@al.uw.edu.pl

 

 

 

Piotr Laskowski

 WEGEN DEM PFERD. THE FEAR AND THE ANIMAL LIFE

   It is, as Deleuze and Guattari observed, “an ordinary sight in those days,” an indispensable part of full modernity, an image that is always within the range of sight. “A horse falls down in the street!,” “a horse is going to die.” From the Auguries … of William Blake, from Hogarth’s second stage of cruelty, through laments of Dostoyevski, up to the madness of Nietzsche and Little Hans’ phobia—the image is always there. It becomes “a hieroglyph that condenses all fears, from unnamable to namable.” Taking famous Freudian Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-year-old Boy as a starting point, we shall try to revise it as well as its famous Lacanian and Deleuzian reinterpretations. We shall invoke Agamben’s concept of “bare life” to reconsider an animal life that is tormented and eventually destroyed

Keywords: Deleuze; Guattari; Freud; Lacan; Agamben; bare life, biopolitics; body.

 

Affiliation: Collegium Medicum, Jagiellonian University, ul. św. Anny 12, 31–008 Kraków, Poland

Email: piotr.laskowski@uj.edu.pl

 

 

 

Clair Linzey

ANIMALS IN CATHOLIC THOUGHT: A NEW SENSITIVITY?

   In this paper, I shall briefly outline some of the negative influences within the Christian tradition that have some bearing on the moral status of animals. These are principally that animals have no mind or reason, no immortal soul, sentiency, or moral status. These influences have given rise to notions of ‘instrumentalism’ and ‘humanism’ within the Catholic tradition that have eclipsed the moral status of animals. However, countervailing forces are at work weakening the grip of Thomism, and issuing in a general moral sensitivity to animals, as witnessed by the Catholic Catechism, the statements of Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI. Most especially Pope Francis’ insistence that humans should ‘protect’ not only creation, but also individual creatures is probably the most progressive papal statement on animals to date.

 

Affiliation: University of St Andrews, Saint Andrews, Fife KY16 9AJ, Great Britain

Email: depdirector@oxfordanimalethics.com

 

 

 

Mirosław Loba

ON ANIMALITY AND HUMANITY IN LITERATURE AFTER THE “DARWINIAN TURN”

   The question of animality haunts the nineteenth and twentieth century literature. Animals appear not only as an allegoric representation but as a reference which troubles the border between humanity and animality. The aim of this paper is to consider how the Darwinian turn has modified the status of animality in modern narratives (the animal seen as an external object before the romantic turn, animal as an internal object). The question of animality as a part of human experience will be analysed on the basis of literary texts (Flaubert and Gombrowicz).

Keywords: status of animality; humanity; Darwinian Turn; 19th/20th century literature; modern narrative; Flaubert; Gombrowicz.

 

Affiliation: Institute of Romanian Philology, al. Niepodległości 4, 61–874 Poznań, Poland

Email: amloba@amu.edu.pl

 

 

 

Jens Loenhoff

ON THE NOTION OF THE BOUNDARY IN THE PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPOLOGY OF HELMUTH PLESSNER

   Within the philosophical anthropology of Helmuth Plessner the concept of the boundary plays a prominent role. As a basic idea to understand the existence of living organisms the key concept of the boundary allows to conceive the specifics of human extistence in the term of the eccentric positionality as a fundamental constitution of man. The article tries to reconstruct the genesis and the systematic content of the concept of the boundary and to outline the consequences for Plessner’s social philosophy.

Keywords: Plessner; philosophical anthropology; boundary; living organisms; human existence; eccentric positionality; social philosophy.

 

Affiliation: Department of Communication Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany

Email: jens.loenhoff@uni-due.de

 

 

 

Kathleen Perry Long

EVIL AND THE HUMAN/ANIMAL DIVIDE: FROM PLINY TO PARÉ

   One striking difference between humans and animals, at least in ancient and medieval thought, is the human capacity for evil. In his Natural History, Pliny portrays elephants and some other animals as superior to humans, arguing that they do not harm their own kind. Elephants are particularly ethical, refusing to harm other creatures, even at the peril of their own lives. The monstrous human races are described in neutral terms. Caesar, on the other hand, is portrayed as a destructive if admirable monster that has destroyed many millions of human lives. This representation of the animal and the half-human monster as morally admirable or at least neutral is modified by Saint Augustine and subsequent theologians who associate the animal and the monstrous with the divine, the human with imperfect knowledge and character.

Keywords: capacity for evil; human/animal divide; Pliny; Ambroise Paré; monster; half-human monster; werewolf; medieval; hybrids.

 

Affiliation: Department of Romance Studies, Cornell University Ithaca, 303 Morrill Hall Ithaca, New York 14853, USA

Email: kpl2@cornell.edu

 

 

 

Ewa Łukaszyk

FROM AGAMBEN TO SAVILLE’S BELLIES. TRANSGRESSION INTO THE ANIMAL CONDITION IN POST-HUMANITY, PRIMITIVE HUMANITY AND CONTEMPORARY ART

   The reflection presented in this article in three distinct “steps of inspiration” (Agamben, ethnology and art) interrelate apparently distant spheres of problems and cultural phenomena. The starting point is given by Agamben’s idea of the apocatastatic “opening of the community,” overcoming the human condition defined by exclusion. The second move will explore an ethnological inspiration. We will reflect upon the archaic search of transcendence through the animal and in the animal, corresponding to the stage of man before the “invention of monotheism” which introduced the concept of divinity defined by reduction and abstraction. As a working hypothesis, it is assumed that the monotheistic concept of God radically driven away from any biological analogy precedes and shapes the concept of humanity defined by exclusion from the universality of biological life

Keywords: Agamben; Saville; ethnology; contemporary art; animal condition; post-humanity; primitive humanity; transgression into animality.

 

Affiliation: Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, University of Warsaw, ul. Nowy Świat 69, 00-046 Warszawa, Poland

Email: ewaluk@al.uw.edu.pl

 

 

 

Beata Michalak

ANIMALS HIDDEN IN NOTES AND INSTRUMENTS

   Music and animals have been in a close relationship in the history of music: starting from musical instruments made of birds’ bones, through animal voices illustrated in medieval songs and presented in later instrumental music up to chirping and trilling written by Olivier Messian in his birdlike pieces and animal sounds recorded and matched with ideas of the 21st century composers. The purpose of this article is to show the change of the context in which animals were introduced in music from the ancient to contemporary period.

Keywords: music; animals; instruments; score; concerto; composer; history of music.

 

Affiliation: Faculty of Pedagogy and Fine Arts in Kalisz, Department of Music Education at Adam Mickiewicz University, ul. Nowy Świat 28-30, Kalisz, Poland

Email: michbeat@amu.edu.pl

 

 

 

Paweł Miech

THE FATHER WAS A GORILLA. PSYCHOANALYSIS AND THE ANIMAL BIG OTHER

   When one closely reads Freud’s case studies one is tempted to say that the unconscious expresses itself through identification with animals. Animals are not just a pretext for symptoms but they seem to play a crucial role in the unconscious of Freud’s patients. A sample of this unconscious affinity with animals is provided by Ratman’s case, who, as Freud claims, “found a living likeness of himself in the rat”. In the paper I consider general conditions of this curious difference between “being an animal” and “identifying with an animal” which seems to be disclosed in Ratman’s case. What exactly manifests itself in this curious identification with an animal? What makes the difference between “being an animal” and “identifying with an animal”? Is id an animal, or is id just an effect of id-entification with an animal?

Keywords: Freud; psychoanalysis; Animal Big Other; id; unconscious affinity; animals; Ratman; identification with an animal.

 

Affiliation: Silesian University, Institute of Philosophy, University of Silesia, ul. Bankowa 12, Katowice, Poland

Email: principia@iphils.uj.edu.pl

 

 

 

Paweł Mościcki

THE CLOTH OF MAN. CONTRIBUTION TO A STUDY ON THE HUMAN-ANIMAL PATHOS

   The main question of my paper—inspired by Aby Warburg’s notion of Pathosformeln and his reading of Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animal—is how animals can represent pathos of human experience in a way, which humanistic, purely anthropocentric forms of expression can no longer account for. In order to present my argument I would like to analyse three examples from literature. Rainer Maria Rilke’s Malte, Thomas Bernhard’s Distortion and W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz. In all three cases animal are necessary to express human

pathos but the intensity of this expression seems to go far beyond the limits of the traditional human-animal division.

Keywords: pathos; humanity; animals; human-animal division; Warburg; Darwin; species; Rilke; Bernhard; Sebald.

 

Affiliation: Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Nowy Świat 72, 00–330 Warszawa, Poland

Email: pawel.moscicki@gmail.com

 

 

 

Joanna Partyka

WOLVES AND WOMEN: À PROPOS THE CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS’S BOOK

   Clarissa Pinkola Estés in the book Women Who Run with the Wolves. Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype (1992) explores the relationship she sees between women and wolves. In the very beginning of her book she writes: “Wildlife and the Wild Woman are both endangered species.” To be wise, creative and powerful a modern woman has to regain her connection to nature, claims Estés. On the other hand, we know that in the European culture women have always been perceived as emotional, weak creatures closer to nature and to “wildlife” than men. To be “closer to animals in our culture is to be denigrated,” we read in Lynda Birke’s paper “Exploring the boundaries: Feminism, Animals and Science.” Following the concept of the Wild Woman I will try to cope with some paradoxes hidden in it.

Keywords: Clarissa Pinkola Estés; women and wolves; wildlife; modern woman; connection to nature; womanhood; Feminism; Wild Woman.

 

Affiliation: Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, University of Warsaw, ul. Nowy Świat 69, 00-046 Warszawa, Poland

Email: partyka@ibl.waw.pl

 

 

 

Krzysztof Skonieczny

BECOMING ANIMAL IN MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE. TOWARD AN ANIMAL COMMUNITY

   It is a recent tendency to read certain pre- and early-modern thinkers as “anticipatory critics” of modernity; the name of Michel de Montaigne often comes up in this context. Most of the critical approaches treat Montaigne like a pre-Rousseau proto-romantic which is indeed is an important part of Montaigne’s thinking. However, as I show in this paper, his Essays also allow for a different interpretation. Namely, I demonstrate that 1) Montaigne’s appraisal of Nature is far from a romantic-idyllic one; 2) his understanding of the interspecies division is more subtle than it is often thought; 3) his thought thus interpreted includes an ethics of becoming-animal that is based on a radically anti-Platonic (and thus anti-Cartesian) body-mind economy.

Keywords: becoming animal; Michel de Montaigne; animal community; animality; post-Cartesian; rationality; nature; interspecies; body-mind economy.

 

Affiliation: Artes Liberales, University of Warsaw, ul. Nowy Świat 69, 00-046 Warszawa, Poland

Email: k.skonieczny@ibi.uw.edu.pl

 

 

 

Tadeusz Sławek

UNANIMAL MANKIND. MAN, ANIMAL, AND THE “ORGANIZATION” OF LIFE

   The essay tries to approach the question of whether it is conceivable to bring the human and animal to the common existential denominator, to open the possibility of thinking in terms of the “humanimal.” Thus, what presents itself as the major problem is the issue of whether or not it is possible to, borrowing the phrase from e.e. cummings’s poem, “unanimal mankind.” Various paths which one may take inspecting this territory open yet another vital interrogation concerning the degree to which the societal dimension of human culture and “formalized humanity” (Herman Melville’s phrase) is enracinated in the presocietal, primeval world of which the animal is representative.

Keywords: mankind; animal; organization of life; humanimal; unanimal mankind; e.e. cummings; formalized humanity.

 

Affiliation: Silesian University, Institute of Philosophy, University of Silesia, ul. Bankowa 12, Katowice, Poland

Email: tadeusz.slawek@us.edu.pl

 

 

 

Mary Trachsel

REVIVING BIOPHILIA: FEELING OUR ACADEMIC WAY TO A FUTURE WITH OTHER ANIMALS

   The experience of animality, common denominator of human and nonhuman animal life, is the core concern of Animal Studies. An interdisciplinary project whose methodological spectrum embraces both experiential and observational ways of knowing, Animal Studies poses both moral and scientific questions and pursues both academic and activist goals. By training multiperspectival attention upon the experience of animality, Animal Studies can and does cultivate what environmental philosopher Arne Naess first theorized as “deep ecology.” Sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson hypothesizes a biological capacity for deep ecological thinking, an aesthetic and affective responsiveness to nature that he calls “biophilia.” By allying biophilia with biology, Animal Studies can focus the power of both naturalism and natural science upon today’s looming environmental threats to animality in its many earthly forms, including our own.

Keywords: biophilia; naturalism; relational ethics; human uniqueness; deep ecology; Animal Studies; Edward O. Wilson.

 

Affiliation: Iowa Rhetoric Department, The University of Iowa, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA

Email: mary-trachsel@uiowa.edu

 

 

 

Szymon Wróbel

DOMESTICATING ANIMALS: DESCRIPTION OF A CERTAIN DISTURBANCE

   In my text, I ask—investigating mainly the works of Freud, Lévi-Strauss, and Kafka—if humanity empowered by kinship or even contamination with other species would be a sick society, frail and ill-selected, or whether it would rather be a society which is active and audacious, devoid of the traces of resentment towards other living beings. I analyze the mono-individual species (the term was formulated by Lévi-Strauss) on the basis of examples which are clinical (Freud’s Hans, Sándor Ferenczi’s little Arpad), literary (Kafka’s Gregor Samsa), and also those borrowed from mass culture (Spider-Man and Batman) in order to illustrate the course of the process of domestication of the animal as well as the dedomestication of the human and their consequences for delineating an uncertain boundary between a human and an animal in the contemporary world.

Keywords: dedomestication; domestications; breeding; proper names; neurosis; personality as a totem; taming; part of life; totem; disturbance.

 

Affiliation: Artes Liberales, University of Warsaw, ul. Nowy Świat 69, 00-046 Warszawa, Poland

Email: wrobelsz@gmail.com

 

 

     

Rafał Zawisza

NOT BEING ANGEL. MANICHAEISM AS AN OBSTACLE TO THINKING OF A NEW APPROACH TO ANIMALITY

   I focus on the monastery life in Europe and its predomination of vita contemplativa upon vita activa. It is not hard to distinguish within Christianity its Manichaean component whose characteristic feature is a grudge against matter, body and sexuality. This complexity of ideas brought about the contempt of vital elements of human existence, so that its animal past, still present in Zivilisationsprozess. An alternative anthropology inspired by an evolutionism should based on the presumption that only through the appreciation of an animal dimension of us—instead of monastic desire of becoming an angel—will it be possible to create new perspectives for renegotiation of the  human–animal boundaries.

Keywords: Manichaeism; animality; Cartesian heritage; vita contemplativa; vita activa; Machiavelli; Spinoza; principle of gratitude; human-animal interconnections.

 

Affiliation: Artes Liberales, University of Warsaw, ul. Nowy Świat 69, 00-046 Warszawa, Poland

Email: rafal.w.zawisza@gmail.com

 

 

 


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