The philosophical bestiary of Jacques Derrida
Preface by Corine Pelluchon
PUF, 356 p., €24
The animal cause has gained visibility in recent years, even bursting into the political sphere. But this human concern for the animal must be questioned philosophically, following Jacques Derrida. “Who are we talking about, then, when we say ‘animal’? And what does “animal” mean? Are we talking about the living or the non-human? Is it the individual or the species? Is it the animal in the singular or the species to which it belongs each time? asks Orietta Ombrosi. “By what right can we reflect and argue about the ‘animal’ and the animals, despite and with all our good intentions (…), while leaving them in silence? “, asks the philosopher of Sapienza (University of Rome) who intends to take charge of the “animal question”, without doing violence to animals.
The exercise is delicate, because it will always remain human, too “anthropo-logo-centric”. Hence the author’s choice to use the bestiary, which has several advantages. By honoring the plurality and diversity of the animal kingdom, it makes it possible to protest against a general singular of the word “animal” and to apply it to the singularity of a particular animal. Then, the breviary, by drawing on the life – real or symbolic – of animals, makes us aware of their differences and their singularities, makes us hear their calls and their sufferings, and therefore makes it possible to “reason differently, differently”.
“The bestiary, summarizes Corine Pelluchon in her preface, constitutes an excellent preamble to approach the otherness of animals and to face the suffering that we inflict on them, by accepting to decenter ourselves, by realizing that their existence obliges us and that it is we have to question whole sections of our education and our culture, built on the domination of other living beings, even on their sacrifice. »
Over the chapters, Orietta Ombrosi tracks these animals found in the work of Jacques Derrida but also for some of them in the Bible. She dialogues closely with the philosopher of deconstruction who showed “a passion for animals” and whose very particular animal philosophy that runs through his work questions all the uses that our society makes of animals, what it does to them, both scientifically, economically and politically. Dense pages to ruminate on, so that one day the relationship between humans and animals will be radically different.
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