Delinearizing the insuperable line : deconstruction as an animal ethic

Cruise, Adam John (2015-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Jacques Derrida’s The Animal that Therefore I Am published posthumously first in France (2006) and then translated in English (2008) has potentially become one of the most powerful philosophical discourses on animal ethics to date. His seminal undertaking begins with a personal experience the philosopher has with his cat that one day follows him into the bathroom. What follows is a classic deconstructive reversal when Derrida, ashamed at his nudity in front of the cat, reverses the perspective and asks what the cat sees and thinks when faced with a man – a naked one at that, and how he, as a shamed human, responds to it. Using his well-established deconstructive methods Derrida weaves through the pillars of traditional philosophy and rigorously unpicks our traditional and historical thinking about how we regard animals and calls into question both the humananimal distinction as well as the latent subjectivity on the matter. It is this text primarily that I utilized in my thesis, as well as some of Derrida’s earlier influential works, to show that deconstruction is a powerful and persuasive strategy toward providing a new ethic for (other) animals. As with Derrida, my point of departure is to put traditional philosophy under the hammer by showing how deconstruction as a post-modern tool unpicks the inherent flaws within its structure. I hope to reveal that a deconstruction of the anthropocentric and logocentric attitude of humans toward other animals is necessary in providing a new ethic for (other) animals. I begin first by breaking down the traditional hierarchy of humans over (other) animals – anthropocentrism, logocentrism and ‘carnophallogocentrism’ – as well as, in a separate chapter, a deconstruction of contemporary animal rights thinkers, and replace these perceptions and theories with what Matthew Calarco called a ‘proto-ethical imperative’ (Calarco, 2008: 108), which, I argue, is a foundation stone toward a new ethic. Then, by multiplying the possibilities of an equitable co-existence between human and other animals, I chart a path toward a better understanding and approach to our relationship with non-human animals. In short, this thesis is an attempt to discover, through deconstruction, a way toward an applied (animal) ethic.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Jacques Derrida se The Animal that Therefore I Am wat postuum die eerste keer gepubliseer is in Frankryk (2006) en daarna vertaal is in Engels (2008) het potensieel een van die mees kragtige filosofiese diskoerse oor diere-etiek tot op datum geword. Sy seminale onderneming begin met 'n persoonlike ervaring wat die filosoof het met sy kat wat hom een dag in die badkamer volg. Wat daarop gebeur is 'n klassieke dekonstruktiewe omkeer toe Derrida, skaam oor sy naaktheid voor die kat, die perspektief omswaai en vra wat die kat sien en dink wanneer gekonfronteer met 'n man – en boonop nog 'n naakte man, en hoe hy, as 'n beskaamde mens, daarop reageer. Met behulp van sy goed gevestigde dekonstruktiewe metodes weef Derrida deur die pilare van die tradisionele filosofie en met sy streng ontledings ontrafel hy ons tradisionele en historiese denke oor hoe ons diere beskou, en bevraagteken hy sowel die mens-dier onderskeiding as die latente subjektiwiteit oor die aangeleentheid. Dit is hoofsaaklik hierdie teks wat ek gebruik in my tesis, sowel as 'n paar van Derrida se vroeëre invloedryke werke, om aan te toon dat dekonstruksie 'n kragtige en oortuigende strategie is om 'n nuwe etiek ten aansien van (ander) diere te voorsien. Soos by Derrida, is my uitgangspunt om tradisionele filosofie onder die hamer te plaas deur aan te toon hoe dekonstruksie as 'n post-moderne denkstrategie die inherente gebreke in sy struktuur kan blootlê. Ek hoop om aan te toon dat 'n dekonstruksie van die antroposentriese en logosentriese ingesteldheid van mense teenoor ander diere noodsaaklik is vir die formulering van 'n nuwe etiek vir (ander) diere. Ek begin deur die tradisionele hiërargie van die mens oor (ander) diere – antroposentrisme, logosentrisme en 'carnophallogosentrisme' af te breek – asook, in 'n ander hoofstuk, met 'n dekonstruksie van kontemporêre diereregtedenkers, en vervang hierdie sieninge en teorieë met wat Matthew Calarco 'n sogenaamde 'proto-etiese imperatief' noem (Calarco 2008: 108), wat ek argumenteer 'n hoeksteen is van 'n nuwe etiek. Dan, deur die moontlikhede van 'n billike mede-bestaan tussen mens en ander diere te vermenigvuldig, karteer ek 'n weg na 'n beter begrip van, en benadering tot ons verhouding met niemenslike diere. In kort, hierdie tesis is 'n poging om deur middel van dekonstruksie, 'n pad na 'n toegepaste (diere-)etiek te ontsluit.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96874
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