Burning Out the Animal: The Failure of Enlightenment Purification in H. G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau
Jacques Derrida’s recent and recurring interest in the problem of the animal signals the critical recognition in cultural theory of a non- human “other” that is crucial to our modernity and to our Western philosophical heritage. Derrida traces a certain recalcitrant humanism in Western metaphysical thought—especially in the work of such cardinal thinkers as Aristotle, Freud, Heidegger, and Levinas—which “continues to link subjectivity with man”1 and withhold it from the animal. In broad theoretical terms, Derrida characterizes the sacrificial structure of Western subjectivity as one that maintains the status of the “human” by a violent abjection, destruction, and disavowal of the “animal.” In other words, the sanctity of humanity depends upon our difference from animals, our repression of animality, and the material reinstantiation of that exclusion through various practices such as meat-eating, hunting, and medical experimentation.
KeywordsHuman Identity Western Subject Feminine Sexuality Imperialist Narrative Beast Flesh
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