By Rob Boddice
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Additional info for Anthropocentrism: Humans, Animals, Environments
22 What I think Derrida recognises intuitively but has not fully managed to articulate is that the notion of an ‘animal’ is only meaningful in relation to human beings, as a sort of image in a distorting mirror. Some thinkers visualise the opposite of humanity as a creature of the imagination, which can incorporate features of many animals as well as demons and immortals. This is, in other words, a sort of ‘personification’ of the ‘animal’. The French historian Lucian Boia calls this ‘l’homme différent’ (the human other), which characteristically resembles a human being in most respects but is radically different in 22 â•‡ Jacques Derrida, The Animal that Therefore I Am, trans.
The animal rights movement only reformulates the human exceptionalism witnessed by the mass slaughter of animals; it does not, save for rhetorical overtures, contradict it. A major factor in this is 17 â•‡ It was precisely the glimpse into the amorality of nature that horrified the likes of Frances Power Cobbe, for example. She campaigned for animal welfare, principally against vivisection, on the basis of human eminence, and saw no contradiction in her continued consumption of flesh. 18 â•‡Richard W.
29 â•‡ The level of comfort and security that human beings have achieved through technology, at least on a day-to-day basis, means that it has become far harder to claim superiority for man on the basis of a uniquely tragic destiny. 30 According to Descartes, animals were automatons, while human beings had immortal souls. 32 Even in the work of Descartes, who is often regarded as among the most anthropocentric of philosophers, there is a profound ambivalence about the status of humankind. 34 As Europeans explored the globe in early modern times, they brought back accounts of remote cultures and of apes in distant lands, and debated which creatures should be considered ‘human’.
Anthropocentrism: Humans, Animals, Environments by Rob Boddice