Diane Morgan

27 March 2019, 3.00–5.00pm
Jessop Building Seminar Room 215

ShARC hosted a fantastic talk by Diane Morgan (University of Leeds), who delivered a paper entitled, ‘If only Immanuel Kant had had a dog!’.

Generally philosophers have not been good on animals. Immanuel Kant is no exception to the rule, which is maybe disappointing. In Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals, Elizabeth Costello says that she for one “expected better” from him. Why? In what ways does his limited reading of human/animal relations betray potentialities inscribed within his own philosophical project? What avenues of thought might have been opened up by a more adventurous exploration of the nature and capacities of nonhuman animals?

In case the very sight of the name KANT puts you right off, I hasten to reassure you that this paper does not intend to focus solely on his philosophy. It is not just interested in “proving” that he could have thought differently about what we call “animals” (maybe with the aim of ultimately “saving” him? Who cares apart from me and a few others?!) It also wishes to ask a wider question, namely: given our investment in the dynamically interdisciplinary field of “Animal Studies” with its most needed engagement with environment issues, what meaning can historic texts have for us now if they necessarily did not face the same ecological urgency as us? If we grant the absolute centrality of the pressing topic of climate change for us today, what can they possibly say to us about who we are, or should be, in relation to others and where we are heading?