Water and Wing Give Wonder: Trans-Species Cosmopolitanism

Cynthia Willett


An interspecies ethics flips the claim of human exceptionalism several times on its head. Here we consider not only our own species’s animality but also the sacred experiences discovered across a range of species. The essay begins with an excursion alongside wild baboons who, as witnessed by Barbara Smuts, display a sense of wonder before a river’s still pools of water. From there we travel up and down the vertical vector of spiritual experience. The disgusting and the ridiculous at the bottom end of this vector turn out to bear as much ethical relevance as elevated experiences of moral beauty and the sublime, for ourselves and other animals.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22329/p.v8i2.4092

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