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Lecture 2

ANT376H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Stoicism, Cockroach, Anthropocentrism

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Hillary Cunningham

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Thursday, January 11, 2018
Lecture 2: Natural Orders
-breathing = exchange - interface
-animal = animas = breath
-human-animal studies focuses on interactions between humans and animals wherever and
whenever we find them
-different animal-human expectations in urban vs. natural landscapes
-challenge anthropocentrism -> nonhuman turn (larger shift to de-centre the human towards
-critical animal studies: justice approach (inequality, social stratification)
-animal histories: history from below; animals as historical subjects
Mary Midgley
-1919 - present
-moral philosopher
-ambivalence of the question of what is an animal?
-Trojan horse syndrome: a ploy/insidious kind of trick used to gain access to something
-i.e. malicious computer software
-the word animal = a trojan horse
-privileging an aspect of yourself - admitting seeds of animality
-problems of getting the beast in us
-Western thinking of being constantly vigilant; constant policing between the line of
animality and humans - important to know about the animal in us and staying “human”
-definitions of animal as nonhuman: beast/brute
-scientific explanations of animal behaviour reflect a certain pattern and logic where you’re
parsimonious/Ockham’s Razor
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Thursday, January 11, 2018
-although other more complicated explanations may be more truthful; in the absence of
certainty the fewer suggestions you make the better (Ockham)
-animal is used as a term of science but does most in areas that are not scientific (cultural
-need to understand the emotional factors and intellectual factors to understand species barrier
-dominant storyline of beast and brute with the word animal -> we tend to have aversions
toward disgust etc. with animal; hostile reactions are emphasized
-chief emotions experienced around animals = fear
-notion of ‘an animal’ -> moral and emotional meanings (hard to explore)
-the affective category - responses we might have
-species barrier: boundary line/policing
-Lewis Henry Morgan: studies of kinship and social structure
-came across the beaver a lot -> monograph on the beaver (not usual) - thinking principle
= not unique to humans on beaver observations
-beavers can build complex structures
-they’re perfectly self-conscious agents -> engineers
-only difference between that thinking capacity and a human’s = speech apparatus ->
beavers = “mutes”
-interesting attempt to cross the species barrier
-speech is not just an apparatus - culture context
-species solipsism: human = only existing conscious subject
-species barrier = crippling
-explanations of animal behaviour that don’t invoke consciousness = the favoured explanations
-animal = “other” -> perpetuates the divide
-studying subjective states = same as being subjective? (not influenced by own feelings/
emotions -> objective); study scientific states in subjective way
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