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The Cat Other

The Cat Other

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Published by Philip Ketzel
A term paper about the impossibility to understand animal alterity other than from an anthropocentric point of view.
A term paper about the impossibility to understand animal alterity other than from an anthropocentric point of view.

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Published by: Philip Ketzel on Jul 27, 2011
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07/28/2011

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Potsdam UniversityEnglish DepartmentHS: Human-Animal-Studies (WiSe 2010/11)Lecturess: Fr. Dr. des. Anja SchwarzTermpaper
The Cat Other:
Between humanity and animality
Written byPhilip Ketzel
 
Ketzel 3
1.
 
Introduction
Human animal studies or just animal studies (AS), as it is also called, had been an un-known territory for the author before he attended the equally titled
master‘s seminar 
, forwhich this term paper was written. According to the homepage of the research and educa-tional organisation the Animals & Society Institute, AS
can be understood as ―a rapidly
growing interdisciplinary field that examines the complex and multidimensional relationships
 between humans and other animals.―
Philip Armstrong and Laurence Simmons write that
―[r]esearchers in animal studies examine the cultural, philosophical, economic and social
means by which humans and animals interact
(1).This scientific interest in human-animal relations could be understood as an evolution of what is called the western philosophical tradition, in which the relationship between animaland human had been quite clearly defined, broadly speaking, as that of the humanly masterwho controls the animal for his interest. Most noteworthy and influential for this traditionalperspective on animality is
Rene Descartes‘ notion of animals as natural automata
(63) aswell as the biblical Genesis chapter. Yet such positions have been identified as being anthro-pocentristic, which, as Clifton Flynn defines anthropocentrism
, ―refers to the idea that h
u-
manity should be the measure of all things. Others and ―otherness‖ tend to be overlooked an
dfail to be taken into account
(78). Even though Immanuel Kant advocates
to practise kind-ness towards animals, for he who is cruel to animals becomes also hard in his dealings with
men‖ (46)
, his position towards animality is also anthropocentristic, since animals remain athing, simply a means to be used by the rational human and are therefore excluded from therealm of ethics (ibid.). The
otherness
of the animal in this case is also reduced to an object.In other words, the animal becomes merely a projection surface with which a person interactsin order to practice the Kantian humanistic ethics.

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