Merleau-Ponty and the Generation of Animals



Merleau-Ponty recognized that phenomenology's methodological coherence required that it reject anthropocentricity and extend its scope beyond the human realm. But he also recognized that this does not change the central role played by human consciousness in phenomenology, which he thus construed as a practical, humanistic project based on 'ontological faith'. Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological contributions concerning animals, then, and in particular his notion of 'interanimality', need to be understood as 'generative' contributions toward the realization of a singular common world. While this does not address issues of interspecific justice directly, it does reveal the underlying ontology of interspecificity to be a normative projection of a decentred humanism, an insight that has the potential to productively rethink the nature of our ethical relations with animals.

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