26th July 2019 by

Oxana Timofeeva – ‘The History of Animals: A Philosophy’ – (30/7/19)

For our last session until September, we will be looking at selections from Oxana Timofeeva’s ‘The History of Animals: A Philosophy’. In an original and inspiring work, Oxana Timofeeva provides an ambitious response to what in philosophy has been called the ‘Animal Question’. Specifically, what is the status of the animal in philosophy? Or, why do we still look at animals?

Drawing on multiple figures from the Western canon, from Aristotle to Descartes, to Hegel and Bataille, Timofeeva’s excellent book engages with the question of animality and its attendant questions: What is the nature of the animal in relation to the human? What about the non-human at large? Is there a difference between the two? Timofeeva’s book shows that these questions are not idle speculation, but have tremendous ontological and political consequences. Her books promotes a full acceptance of our animality, but not as we might expect. Specifically, without promoting a ‘return to our roots’, ‘getting back to nature’, or ‘going about our monkey business’. Instead, she argues that the only way to accept our animality is to go through negativity, in a rejection of the very core of Christian metaphysics, that usually defines itself in opposition to animal nature, or remote from it.

Building on previous weeks’ material, such as Morton’s ‘Frankenstein and Ecocriticism’, Jonathan Bate’s Song of the Earth, and even Rebekah Sheldon’s ‘Form/Matter/Chora’, Timofeeva highlights that animals are strange strangers that we encounter everyday. And likewise, the animal, or the non-human, only arises in relation to the human and vice versa.

We will primarily be focusing on the sections ‘Before the Law’ and ‘The Insane’, though considering the length of this text and the late publication of this post, please feel free to read as much or as little as you can

You can join us in the Westmere Hub at 5:15pm on Tuesday the 30th of July.

This week’s reading is available here:

You may also wish to join our mailing list, in which case you’ll want to email Ben Horn at: bxh873@student.bham.ac.uk

This week’s musical accompaniments are:
– Animal Collective – ‘We Tigers’
– The Monkees – ‘Hey, Hey, We’re The Monkees’
– David Bowie – ‘Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)’

We look forward to seeing you all at the session!

The Contemporary Theory Reading Group