Man and animal in modernity: A political-ecological reading of Hobbes, Rousseau, and Nietzsche /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Ploof, Rebecca Aili, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2015
Description:1 electronic resource (144 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Patchen Markell Committee members: Julie E. Cooper; Robert Gooding-Williams.
This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-02(E), Section: A.
Summary:The modern period of the history of political thought abounds in animal imagery, yet political theorists have long considered politics a practice unique to human beings. Given the animal's presumed political exclusion, what is the significance of figures of animality in modern theorists' accounts of the origins of human political life? The conventional response to this question is that in the state-of-nature or developmental narratives that typify the modern period, the animal is intended to highlight, through opposition, what is distinctive about humanity. From this perspective, this means that any meaningful critique of political anthropocentrism -- an objective of much contemporary political-ecological thought -- requires either leaving these canonical texts behind, or showing how their attempts to divorce the human from the animal fail. By contrast, through close textual interpretation of the works of Hobbes, Rousseau, and Nietzsche, the dissertation argues that the political theoretical function of the animal in each philosopher's theory demonstrates that, for them, the advent of human political life is actually interdependent with and inseparable from animality. To advance this interpretative position, the animal is read both ontologically -- with attention to the notions of being employed to partition man and animal -- as well as figuratively -- with analysis of the rhetorical devices through which the animal is presented -- in each theorist's work. While speaking to the emerging interdisciplinary field of animal studies and contributing to scholarship on the history of political thought, the dissertation carries important implications for ecological political theory. Rather than being dismissed on grounds of anthropocentrism, the dissertation demonstrates that these classic texts can, and should, be read as resources for advancing ecological theory and reconceptualizing some of its central premises. Chief among such underlying assumptions, for instance, is the notion that the goal of highlighting the material interrelationship of all life, as it relates to politics, is best served by the blurring or even elimination of ontological distinctions. While acknowledging that this means and end may sometimes go hand-in-hand, the dissertation offers readings of Hobbes, Rousseau, and Nietzsche challenging the view that this approach most efficaciously promotes the aims of ecological political thought.