An Intersectional Social Justice Approach for Liberation
Edited By Anthony J. Nocella, John Sorenson, Kim Socha and Atsuko Matsuoka
1 An Overview of Anthropocentrism, Humanism, and Speciesism in Critical Animal Theory Adam Weitzenfeld and Melanie Joy
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An Overview of Anthropocentrism,Humanism, and Speciesism in Critical Animal Theory
Adam Weitzenfeld and Melanie Joy
This chapter serves as an overview of the conceptualization of human existence as something superior and opposed to animals and animality. While previously given independent treatments, the concepts of anthropocentrism, humanism, speciesism, and carnism in this chapter will be differentiated and discussed as having mutually reinforced one another through constructing, legitimating, and reproducing a human-animal hierarchy and binary.
As shall be argued, anthropocentrism, which has narcissistically privileged humans as the center of all significance, is not an innate disposition but a historical outcome of a distorted humanism in which human freedom is founded upon the unfreedom of human and animal others. Nonetheless, the humanist aspiration to ground knowledge in reason through modern science has undermined the tenability of a human-animal binary and hierarchy, thus resulting in a critique of speciesist beliefs and institutions. Yet still, residue of anthropocentric thought is retained in the work of humanistic thinkers opposed to speciesism who take for granted the presuppositions of classical humanism.
Critical Animal Theory (CAT) scholars, including posthumanists and feminists, reevaluate the significance of dependencies, emotions, and the specificity of animal being and agency. Further, they aim to dismantle the structures of speciesism at the politico-economic, sociocultural, and psychosomatic levels of existence. Of all the ways humans are subject to speciesism, carnism—the unrecognized ideology that legitimates the killability and edibility of animal...
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