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Brutal Reasoning: Animals, Rationality, and Humanity in Early Modern England

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  15 ratings  ·  3 reviews
Early modern English thinkers were fascinated by the subject of animal rationality, even before the appearance of Descartes's Discourse on the Method (1637) and its famous declaration of the automatism of animals. But as Erica Fudge relates in Brutal Reasoning, the discussions were not as straightforward--or as reflexively anthropocentric--as has been assumed.

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Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 5th 2006 by Cornell University Press
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Savannah
I just finished reading this for a research paper on the violence of human-to-animal metamorphosis, and found it to be quite an exciting and compelling piece of scholarship. Fudge explores the role of the animal in constructing and disrupting early modern discourses of reason. She is primarily interested in the period leading up to Descarte’s mechanic beast, tracing shifting conceptions of the human from Aristotelian to Plutarchan to Skeptical, where animals persistently break down any stable no ...more
17CECO
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sturdy study that shades in how animals were understood in the early modern era. Perhaps most relevant to my work was the idea that "for most persons beasts were outside the terms of moral reference" (72). Within this paradigm, violence to animals was often thought of as wrong not because of the pain it inflicted to a sensate being but because it was violence to the property of another (even if that other is God). Accordingly, when employed in language the animal often does not refer to the anim ...more
Karl Steel
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Animal Theorists
Shelves: animals
"In a world without animals, humans woudl not only lose companions, workers, sources of food, clothing, and so on; they would lose themselves." (36)

This is one of the two best anti-anthropocentric cultural studies books I know (the other is Cary Wolfe's Animal Rites). Fudge argues that most Early Modern histories of the formation of the subject remain "in the shadow of Descartes" by not recognizing their own discursive situatedness in effacing animals from their consideration. Prior to Descartes
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Erica Fudge is Professor of English Studies at the University of Strathclyde. She is also Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Cultural Studies at Middlesex University, London. Fudge was Director of Research for English, Creative Writing and Journalism there from 2011 to 2014. Her academic research focusses on historical human animal relations, with particular interest in the early mode ...more

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