Saturday, 8 June 2013

Animals and Humans: A False Divide?

June 5, 2013 — We don't just share our lives with animals; we are animals -- a reality that we often choose to forget in modern Western culture. Research published in the June special issue of SAGE journal, Social Science Information (SSI), delves deeper into our relationship with other creatures, critically examining our own animal nature, and looking at how animals profoundly influence our culture -- perhaps more so than we had initially thought.

We have often been told in Western thought that the human species is one that is highly developed, above that of the animal kingdom, a division that is clear cut and one that clearly sets the human species apart. Yet Dominique Lestel, a highly influential researcher studying animality (our animal nature), opposes the separation of human and animal life. Lestel ask us to reframe the question of animality, asking us to view humanization as an ongoing performative practice, rather than an historical threshold that was crossed long ago.

Looking at the relationship between animal and human, Lestel argues that species loss has both an ecological and symbolic consequence on our culture, as every species contributes to our very being, our meaning. He warns that "each species that disappears is a part of our imagination that we amputate perhaps irreversibly."

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