Prejudice

“The question of the animal comes up in all of my texts, since the very beginning. But recently in the last few years I’ve written a great deal on this. It addresses certain sensitive points in deconstruction—the definition of what is proper to man, and what distinguishes man from animals in general. This was something of great interest to me and I’ve worked on it extensively. I avoid speaking generally about animals. For me, there are not “animals.” When one says, “animals,’ one has already started to not understand anything, and has started to enclose the animal into a cage. There are considerable differences between different types of animals. There is no reason one should group into one and the same category — monkeys, bees, snakes, dogs, horses, anthropoids, and microbes. These are radically different organisms of life, and to say “animal,” and put them all into one category — both the monkey and the ant — is a very violent gesture. To put all living things that aren’t human into one category is, first of all, a stupid gesture — theoretically ridiculous — and partakes in the very real violence that humans exercise towards animals. That leads to slaughterhouses, their industrial treatment, their consumption. All this violence towards animals is engendered in this conceptual simplification which allows one to say “animals” in general. So, when I’m paying attention to my language, I don’t talk about ”animals” I say, “this specific type of animal, “ or, “Such and such an animal.”[…] There are very few other philosophers who don’t give into this prejudice against animals — practically none. That is not to say that the discourse is homogeneous, but on the whole, most partake in a forceful presupposition, a prejudice against the animal. Writers are different — I’m talking about philosophers.”

~Jacques Derrida, Derrida

Aliya WeiseComment