Saturday, May 08, 2010

Dog's vocabulary and ecological ethics

If Post Humanism is about transcending species limits it does not simply concern the relationship to human and machine but between humans and the rest of the animal world. "In these first five chapters, Wolfe describes his perspective and purpose by interaction with many other great minds and influential texts, primarily those of Jacques Derrida. Here, the fundamental meaning and purpose of “Posthumanism” becomes clear. Wolfe wants his readers to rethink their relationship to animals (what he calls “nonhuman animals”). His goal is “a new and more inclusive form of ethical pluralism” (137). That sound innocuous enough, but he is not talking about racial, religious, or other human pluralisms. He is postulating a pluralism that transcends species. In other words, he is promoting the ethical treatment of animals based on a fundamental re-evaluation of what it means to be human, to be able to speak, and even to think. He does this by discussing studies that reveal the language capacities of animals (a dog apparently has about a 200-word vocabulary and can learn new words as quickly as a human three-year-old; pp. 32-33), by recounting the story of a woman whose Asperger’s syndrome enables her to empathize with cows and sense the world the way they do (chapter five), and by pointing out the ways in which we value disabled people who do not possess the standard traits that (supposedly) make us human."]

In my view one of the most under discussed aspects of Harman’s variant of object-oriented philosophy is his theory of the structure of objects and the division within objects between real objects and sensuous objects…
When Harman refers to sensuous objects, he is not simply referring to objects as they are for humans or for animals, but objects as they are for any object. Thus, for example, a real rock no less encounters another rock as a sensuous object than a human encounters a dog as a sensuous object. The domain of what Harman calls “the sensuous” is a genuinely ontological domain pertaining to relations among all objects, not a domain restricted to philosophy of mind or epistemology. Moreover, the domain of the sensuous is not the domain of the unreal, but is perfectly real in its own right.]

As I’ve often remarked on this blog, I have the highest admiration and sympathy for Ivakhiv’s work. This admiration is not simply an admiration for his ontology, but also for his devotion to ecology and his ecological ethics. Nonetheless, I confess that I find his relationism and critiques of subtractive object-oriented ontology baffling. And if I find this critique baffling, then this is because Adrian seems to hold that subtractive object-oriented ontology rejects relations altogether, such that it holds that we should ignore relations among objects.] 

Appropriate discovery on Earth Day, but it seems Tim Morton, author of Ecology Without Nature, has a blog of the same name.While I have some disagreements with his work, in general I think Morton is one of those essential thinkers producing work that bridges the gap that has emerged between ecologists and animal studies people. So, I'm really quite...]
Peter Gratton posts a very interesting interview with Jane Bennett, author of Vibrant Matter. It is part of Gratton's on-going interview series, and I suggest all of them. Bennett is dealing directly with questions of political ecology and non-human agency, and this interview is well worth the read. I haven't gotten around to reading Vibrant Matter...]

Admirable speculations, but without the backdrop of The Life Divine, they remain mere lucubrations. [TNM]

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