March 2

I’m interested in this historic belief that empathy towards animals translates into empathy towards humans. It’s easy to see this isn’t true—however, patriarchal “power of care” does seems to translate. It seems as though ideas relating to hierarchy are easier to reproduce. I wonder why this is true. 

While I agree with the project of transgressing boundaries “between child and dog” and between animals and people in order to limit dualistic thinking, dualistic thinking is so deeply ingrained that breaking it down is a very long-term strategy, and when it comes to the environment, we don’t have a long time. Even evolved thinkers who continually combat the instinct towards dualism (and it does seem to be an instinct given the role it plays in critical thought—we only think of things and ideas in terms of other things and ideas) aren’t necessarily environmentalists. More to the point, in psychologizing the problem, the posthumanists shift focus to the individual when the problem is structural. As I understand it, the same 100 companies are guilty of most environmental damage. Psychologizing the problem and making it seem the fault not only of individuals but of individuals’ thinking—moreover hoping they absorb this lesson through literature—is not only several steps removed; it risks sidetracking and obscuring the real issue. Yes, dualistic thinking is what caused the current problem. It doesn’t follow that more nuanced or evolved thinking will solve it.   

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