Zoographies: The Question of the Animal from Heidegger to Derrida

Matthew Calarco
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Zoographies challenges the anthropocentrism of the Continental philosophical tradition and advances the position that, while some distinctions are valid, humans and animals are best viewed as part of an ontological whole. Matthew Calarco draws on ethological and evolutionary evidence and the work of Heidegger, who called for a radicalized responsibility toward all forms of life. He also turns to Levinas, who raised questions about the nature and scope of ethics; Agamben, who held the "anthropological machine" responsible for the horrors of the twentieth century; and Derrida, who initiated a nonanthropocentric ethics. Calarco concludes with a call for the abolition of classical versions of the human-animal distinction and asks that we devise new ways of thinking about and living with animals.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51157-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION The Question of the Animal
    (pp. 1-14)

    The present volume, while primarily philosophical in scope and content, was written as a contribution to the emerging interdisciplinary field of animal studies. While there is no widely agreed upon definition of what precisely constitutes animal studies, it is clear that most authors and activists working in the field share the conviction that the “question of the animal” should be seen as one of the central issues in contemporary critical discourse. This conviction stands in stark contrast to the reception the question has had in most individual disciplines in the sciences and humanities. In my home discipline of philosophy, for...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Metaphysical Anthropocentrism: Heidegger
    (pp. 15-54)

    For our task of examining the question of the animal in the context of contemporary Continental philosophy, Martin Heidegger is an essential reference and ideal point of departure. He has set the agenda for numerous areas of research in Continental thought, and his influence on contemporary phenomenological, deconstructive, and psychoanalytic approaches to philosophy is immeasurable. For issues having to do with animals, Heidegger’s work contains a number of important (albeit contentious) reflections on the nature of animal life and the status of the human-animal distinction. Despite my respect for Heidegger’s thought and for the originality of his thinking in so...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Facing the Other Animal: Levinas
    (pp. 55-78)

    The question that guides this chapter can be stated succinctly as follows: What today remains of Levinas’s thought for animal ethics? This is an important question to pose, for Levinas’s thought would appear at first blush to be opposed to the main positions developed in this book. The two dominant theses in Levinas’s writings concerning animals are: no nonhuman animal is capable of a genuine ethical response to the Other; and nonhuman animals are not the kinds of beings that elicit an ethical response in human beings—which is to say, the Other is always and only the human Other....

  7. CHAPTER THREE Jamming the Anthropological Machine: Agamben
    (pp. 79-102)

    Giorgio Agamben arrived at his recent work on the question of the animal through a rather circuitous route. Similar to Martin Heidegger and Emmanuel Levinas, much of Agamben’s early focus was on the question of thinking through the remains of human propriety in the wake of the decentering of human subjectivity. In his writings from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Agamben elaborates a complicated and provocative account of being human that seeks, again like Heidegger and Levinas, to be genuinely postmetaphysical and posthumanist. However, as this project develops over the decades, it seems to become increasingly clear to Agamben that...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR The Passion of the Animal: Derrida
    (pp. 103-150)

    In 1997, some thirty years after the publication of his first three major works, Jacques Derrida made the following statement:

    The question of the living and of the living animal . . . will always have been the most important and decisive question. I have addressed it a thousand times, either directly or obliquely, by means of readings of all the philosophers I have taken an interest in.¹

    This statement will likely appear odd both to longtime readers of Derrida and to those readers who are familiar with debates in animal philosophy. While Derrida’s name and work have, in recent...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 151-162)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 163-170)