Zoographies by Matthew Calarco
|Publisher||Columbia University Press|
|Language||English, Spanish, and French|
Calarco (California State Univ., Fullerton) examines the question of the animal in major Continental thinkers like Heidegger, Levinas, Agamben, and Derrida. He takes to task the belief that Anglo philosophy alone boasts of a strong tradition on this issue. He admits, however, that although these post-Enlightenment thinkers were committed to examining and refiguring philosophical concepts and human existence, most resort to dogmatic anthropocentric concepts, specifically the traditional dualism of human/animal--a type of essentialism. For example, despite being critical of an ontotheological thesis of animals, Heidegger nonetheless writes of an "abyssal" difference between human and animal life. Calarco's basic thesis is that this binary is no longer defendable, forever destroyed by the sciences and humanities. Most promising is Derrida, the only major Continental thinker to date who thoroughly rejects the human/animal distinction and envisions the philosophically enormous task of rethinking politics and ethics outside this tradition. Derrida begins with humankind's pre-philosophical encounter with animals as fellow beings capable of suffering, embodied and "vulnerable" (although this last description is problematic as it is, arguably, a continuation of humans' desire to infantilize animals). This important analysis is long overdue. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers. Upper-division Undergraduates; Graduate Students; Researchers/Faculty. Reviewed by M. A. Betz.