A Species of Thought: Bare Life and Animal Being



Abstract:  Discussions of animal rights tend to naturalize rights discourse, while discussions of animal philosophy tend to naturalize self/other relationships. This paper argues that neither provide an adequate critique of the system of capitalism that shapes both. As ever-larger portions of the globe are subject to intensified capitalist exploitation and industrialization, labor becomes increasingly superfluous to the processes of production, leaving millions of human beings to live like animals outside of the space of production even as billions of animals are increasingly granted some measure of rights due to their place within production. Both the desire to define our relationship to other animals in the discourse of animal rights and the tendency to naturalize exploitation, sacrifice and sovereignty in poststructural philosophy are two sides of the same capitalist coin. Finally, this paper suggests that addressing the problems of dehumanization and the waste of human lives might require forming new ideas and new practices regarding our relationships with other animals.