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The Animal ClaimSensibility and the Creaturely Voice$
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Tobias Menely

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226239255

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226239422.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 18 October 2019

Sensibilities into Statutes

Sensibilities into Statutes

Animal Rights and the Afterlife of Sensibility

Chapter:
(p.164) Chapter 5 Sensibilities into Statutes
Source:
The Animal Claim
Author(s):

Tobias Menely

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226239422.003.0005

This chapter investigates the contested legacy of sensibility, beginning with the decades of reaction and reform following the French Revolution. Drawing on Jeremy Bentham’s ambivalent account of “rights” as “sentimental” and “figurative,” and focusing on the unprecedented debates in the public and Parliament regarding the passage of animal welfare law, the chapter argues that the legislative recognition of animals’ personhood actualizes sensibility’s model of sovereign answerability. This chapter also tracks the association between “sentimentality,” as excessive or improper passion, and the promiscuous social identifications, such as the anthropomorphic confusion of “persons” and “things,” conservatives associated with literary humanitarianism. George Canning’s critique of Laurence Sterne’s sensibility in “New Morality” concretizes a link—between pathological sensibility, the humanization of animals, and the animalization of humans—that remains in play through the twentieth century, from Charles Dana’s diagnosis of “zoöphilpsychosis” as a nervous disorder to Hannah Arendt’s rejection of the Rousseauean politics of pity.

Keywords:   animal rights, sentimentalism, anthropomorphism, French Revolution, Hannah Arendt, Jeremy Bentham, George Canning, Laurence Sterne

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