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Title page for ETD etd-07062012-164355

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Suen, Alison
URN etd-07062012-164355
Title The kinship of language: reworking the human-animal divide
Degree PhD
Department Philosophy
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kelly Oliver Committee Chair
Ellen Amour Committee Member
José Medina Committee Member
Leonard Lawlor Committee Member
Lisa Guenther Committee Member
  • dehumanization
  • Speaking for others
  • Animal Ethics
  • racialization
  • the Cove
Date of Defense 2012-05-15
Availability unrestricted
Animals have populated philosophical texts in various forms: idioms, jokes, metaphors, and examples. But most often they are summoned as a foil to illustrate what it means to be human. Animals are instrumental in the construction of the human subject. How should we understand this human-animal divide? Not only does it inform us of who we are, it also tells us how we should relate to other creatures and the larger non-human world. In this dissertation I interrogate the human-animal divide by looking at our linguistic differences. Specifically, I examine why the question of language remains relevant in animal ethics, and how the linguistic divide functions in our relationships with animals. Drawing on the works of Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Martin Heidegger, I articulate a theory of language that emphasizes kinship and relational possibilities. By showing that our linguistic capacity is intertwined with our relational capacity, this dissertation seeks to reinvigorate the question of language in animal ethics.
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