Animal

One English word, one Western concept—“animal”—somehow encompasses a vast array of creatures—sponges, spiders, capybara, camels, eels, eagles, ticks, tigers, octopi, orangutans, dinosaurs, and slugs—but it rarely contains humans. Western philosophy and everyday conceptual frameworks define the human against the animal, forcing the multitude of beings other than Homo sapiens into one category. Jacques Derrida notes the absurdity and violence of this ostensibly neutral term:

Whenever “one” says “The Animal,” each time a philosopher, or anyone else, says “The Animal” in the singular and without further ado, claiming thus to designate every living thing that is held not to be human (man as rational animal, man as political animal, speaking animal, zōon logon echon, man who says “I” and takes himself to be the subject of a statement that he proffers on the subject of the said animal, etc.), well, each time the subject of that statement, this “one,” this

This essay may be found on page 9 of the printed volume.

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