By Derek Ryan
From caged orangutans to roasted pig, from puppy education to horse phobias, from speaking bees to ruminating cows, Derek Ryan explores how animals are encountered in theoretical discourse. throughout 4 thematically organised chapters on 'Animals as Humans', 'Animal Ontology', 'Animal existence' and 'Animal Ethics' he bargains prolonged discussions of Nietzsche, Freud, Lacan, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Derrida, Deleuze, Singer, Nussbaum, Adams and Haraway between others, in addition to vigorous readings of latest literary texts by means of Carter, Coetzee, Auster and Foer. meant as a source for researchers, scholars, academics and all these attracted to human-animal relationships, Animal conception: A serious Introduction offers an obtainable and authoritative account of the demanding situations and capability in brooding about and with animals.
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Extra resources for Animal Theory: A Critical Introduction
But the question remains as to how true it is to conclude that we can never penetrate animals’ experiences. What is it Like to be an Animal? ’ Arguing against reductive materialist accounts of the mind that ignore the complexity of subjective experience, Nagel outlines that consciousness is a ‘widespread phenomenon’ that ‘occurs at many levels of animal life’. It is his belief in a widespread array of conscious experience that leads Nagel to ask the specific question that forms the title of his essay: ‘no matter how the form may vary, the fact that an organism has conscious experience at all means, basically, that there is something it is like to be that organism’.
A n i m a l s a s h u m a n s 23 De-centring Human Subjectivity In claiming that ‘the ego is not master in its own house’ (Freud 2001: 143), psychoanalytic theory radically de-centres the human subject. This is a key feature of Freud’s 1930 study Civilization and Its Discontents, where he describes the belief in a stable ‘sense of self’ fuelled by an ‘autonomous, uniform’ ego as ‘a delusion’; psychoanalytic theory instead tells us that ‘the ego extends inwards, with no clear boundary, into an unconscious psychical entity that we call the id, and for which it serves, so to speak, as a façade’ (2004: 3).
Anthropomorphism’ is precisely the word used in ‘The Interpretation of Utterances’ to explain how ‘Freud does not understand animals’ including Little Hans’ horse (98). What could, to some extent, be understood as an awareness of human epistemological limitations in texts like Totem and Taboo and Civilization and Its Discontents is, in the very process of psychoanalysing dreams and desires, instead a sign of ignorance about the material, affective roles animals play in human lives (in both psychosexual and social realms).
Animal Theory: A Critical Introduction by Derek Ryan