Thou Shall Not Harm All Living Beings: Feminism, Jainism, and Animals


  • Irina Aristarkhova


In this paper, I critically develop the Jain concept of nonharm as a feminist philosophical concept that calls for a change in our relation to living beings, specifically to animals. I build on the work of Josephine Donovan, Carol J. Adams, Jacques Derrida, Kelly Oliver, and Lori Gruen to argue for a change from an ethic of care and dialogue to an ethic of carefulness and nonpossession. I expand these discussions by considering the Jain philosophy of nonharm (ahimsa) in relation to feminist and other theories that advocate noneating of animals, “humane killing,” and “less harm.” Finally, I propose that a feminist appropriation of the Jain concept of nonharm helps us develop a feminist ethic of nonharm to all living beings.