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Beyond the Pale

Beyond the Pale

Joining the Society of Animals in Aristophanes, Herman Melville, and Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Chapter:
(p.83) Chapter Three Beyond the Pale
Source:
The Animal Part
Author(s):
Mark Payne
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226650852.003.0004

This chapter discusses a number of narrative texts where animals other than human beings live in social groups and communicate with one another as members of them. Before considering Aristophanes' version of the animal society story pattern in Birds, it considers Aristotle's position on the nature of human and animal societies as a kind of counterpoint to the playwright's imaginative engagement with the topic. Aristotle's account of human society in the Politics views its achievements against the horizon of zoological life as a whole, and his famous assertion that the human being is “by nature a political animal” is best understood by comparing his account of what is distinctive about human society with his descriptions of the kinds of sociality exhibited by other animals.

Keywords:   animals, human being, animal societies, human society, social groups

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