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Ecocide and the Extinction of Animal Minds

Ecocide and the Extinction of Animal Minds

Chapter:
(p.45) 3 Ecocide and the Extinction of Animal Minds
Source:
Ignoring Nature No More
Author(s):
Eileen Crist
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226925363.003.0003

In recent years humanity has come to two momentous realizations. The first is that we are in the midst of an anthropogenic crisis of life—an extinction spasm and ecological unraveling that is moving the biosphere towards an impoverished biogeological era. The second is that, in the course of history, especially the history of domination-driven Western culture, humanity has tended to deny or underestimate the mental life of animals. This chapter explores the conceptual and historical links between the unraveling of life and the denigration of animal minds. It argues that the long-standing denial or disparagement of animal minds has contributed to the devastation of the biosphere. The portrayal of animals as inferior beings, and eventually even as mechanical entities, facilitated the objectification of the natural world and its transformation into a domain of resources.

Keywords:   biosphere, mental life, animal mind, anthropogenic crisis, environmental decline

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