Monday, October 17, 2011

One more try, Pro-anthropocentric backlash.

So, last night I made this short post on the idea of a pro-anthropocentric backlash. I think this is a perfect example of the downfalls of blogging. Articulating something off the top of your head, doing it very quickly right before bed, while I am also chatting with my wife. And so, Joshua Miller (in the comments of that post) and Mike Burns make some very good points. They are well taken. So, let me try this again.

First, the good news. When I first started working on animals, not only were there very few critical animal scholars, but in general anthropocentrism was the reigning ideology. While there were plenty of people who would say they were oppose to humanism, but it certainly was a very strongly anthropocentric humanism. But these days, every time I turn around I run into someone who is critiquing anthropocentrism. And of course, there are all sorts of different oppositions, and many of us disagree with each other. Still, I feel that the anti-anthro crowd is on a rising tide. We are forcing people to answer our positions, getting more institutional support, convincing people, etc. This is all good news.

And I would say this is also part of a movement. I said it is always cutting edge to be opposed to the cutting edge. Hipster logic, but still true. And being part of the cutting edge matters. It attracts attention, gets people talking, etc. This is not to say that people do not legitimately believe their positions.

Second, I agree with Mike Burns that there really is nothing new about this anthropocentrism (I can't speak to Meillassoux’s position, Harman's book is having to wait until winter break). However, because anthropocentrism was the default before, the anti-anthropocentrism crowd is forcing the pro-anthro crowd to articulate their position and defend their viewpoints. Hell, the very fact that I can talk about a pro-anthropocentric crowd is a change in the ground from when anthropocentrism was the default position that needed no overt adherents. So, maybe I don't mean backlash, as much as the rising pro-anthropocentric response.

My hope wasn't to create "a weird kind of pre-ad hominem", but I certainly understand why my post came across that way. Rather, I want to point out that the lay of the land is changing.