The otherness of animals

CqK8dLCWgAAcLpmHow do human beings and animals relate to each other? One way to answer this question is to empty the putative relation of substantive content: human beings project onto animals while animals are materially dependent on human beings. My own approach would be to contextualise this projection in terms of real relationality, arguing that it represents a human coming-to-terms with creatures which are, in their absence of language use, radically other to us. It’s the immediacy of this otherness which at least for me constitutes a large part of the appeal of pet ownership. But I think this otherness is reciprical, as nicely expressed in the claim that “cats are our captives, domesticated aliens with no way of explaining their customs, or of interpreting ours.”

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