Mădălina Diaconu: Editorial
mensch und tier
Herausgeberinnen des Thementeils: Mădălina Diaconu und Ursula Baatz
As the apex predators in the ecological system in medieval China, tigers posed a challenge to the local communities and Daoist hermits who lived in rural areas and mountains. Medieval Daoists developed particular discourses and strategies for dealing with the so-called tiger violence problem. These were shaped and reshaped by Daoist textual and doctrinal traditions, daily experiences of living with the natural environment and animals, interactions with the local community, and competition with Buddhists. Exploring medieval Daoist hagiographical sources shows that Daoists regarded tigers as companions, threats, and weapons in their religious and daily lives. Daoist approaches to tiger violence in medieval China illustrate that, on the one hand, Daoists preserved the doctrinal and ethical traditions that were rooted in their cosmology, and on the other hand they developed strategies for responding to new challenges from the natural environment and religious competition.
It is often asserted that in African moral beliefs and customs, in stark contrast with Western moral attitudes and practices, there exists no comparable objectification and exploitation of other-than-human animals and nature. African ethics’ primary concern with harmonious communal relationships is taken to include non-human nature. Is this assertion correct? Religious and philosophical thought as well as traditional cultural practices on the African continent are, demonstrably, largely anthropocentric. Although concepts and values like ubuntu (humanness) and ukama (relationality) have recently been expanded to accommodate other-than-human animals, these creatures are characteristically not perceived to have any rights, and pertinent human duties are almost exclusively indirect . Nonetheless, more and more African voices reject anthropocentrism. A growing concern is that those who, following their own liberation, continue to treat other creatures as mere means to their own ends simply because they can, are promoting species apartheid and thereby contributing to their own dehumanisation.
Why and how is it possible to criticize the domestication of so-called livestock? A critique of animal domestication means a critique of what is considered as legitimate, valid and normal human-animal interaction. Knowledge of the history of domesticated nonhumans is critical knowledge because it cannot accept historical and institutional circumstances as given. However, this knowledge cannot be critical without further theoretical and practical specification and enforcement. The fundamentally dissident attitude of abolitionist speakers and activists challenges the philosophical presuppositions of canonized theorists as well as the previous anthropocentric foundations of political action and thinking - and will continue to do so.
In this paper, various possible reasons for critical statements about animal domestication are presented. It is intended to show some levels at which the history of livestock farming can be negotiated and perspectives that can lead to a critical handling of the history of domestication.
The human-animal hybrid, or the transformation between humans and animals, has a long root in Chinese culture, and has recurred throughout Chinese literature. As a burgeoning genre in current China, contemporary Chinese animal fictions have increasingly featured the human-animal hybrid to disclose environmental degradations and the interdependence between humans and nonhuman animals. This article aims at investigating the human-animal hybrid represented in contemporary Chinese animal fictions in the context of the anti-modernity narrative and realistic ecological crises in China. Through referencing ancient Chinese philosophy and literature that are related to the human-animal hybrid, this article takes Ye Guangqin’s The Snake Erchan and Jia Pingwa’s Remembering Wolves as two case studies to argue that contemporary Chinese animal fiction writers employ the mythical human-animal hybrid as both a reminder of the inseparability between humans and animals, and a warning to critique detrimental effects brought by the idea of modernity. The traditional holistic and non-binary Chinese belief towards the human-animal relationship embedded in these animal fictions opens up an intercultural thinking about modernity as such.
In recent decades, we have witnessed an increase in philosophical reflection on human relationships with nonhuman animals, but no such similar trend has been experienced within the field of aesthetics. Aesthetics of nature mostly focuses on environments and devotes less attention to animals. This paper defends the idea that we urgently need a critical theory of animal aesthetics. The fundamental reason for this is that many cases of animal abuse and also of species extinctions are at least partly related to a superficial and distorted aesthetic appreciation of animals. Given this situation, I propose a conception of deep and serious appreciation, based on the cognitive aesthetics developed by Allen Carlson, Glenn Parsons and Yuriko Saito, that could inspire and foster relationships with nonhuman animals that are far more beneficial to all parties involved.
Regarding the outcome of the German Acupuncture Trials (GERAC), the so far largest study about the usefulness of acupuncture, researchers are confronted with an inexplicable mystery: for some health complaints, such as low back pain and knee osteoarthritis, acupuncture is more effective than conventional therapy, even in the case of sham-acupuncture, where false acupuncture points have been used. As a consequence, medical researchers reject the scientific credibility of acupuncture, instead of questioning the methods of the applied research design. From the point of view of philosophy of science, those peculiar results rather reveal far-reaching shortcomings concerning the underlying methodology of such studies. Therefore, it has to be looked closely at the epistemological basis of medical research and another paradigm for scientific knowledge and commitment seems to be needed. The concept of relational commitment, based on Constructive Realism, proves to be a promising epistemological approach in order to design context sensitive forms of researching acupuncture.
Zu interkulturellen Bilddiskursen und Hermeneutik im weltphilosophischen Diskurs heute. Zu: Gabriele Münnix: Das Bild vom Bild. Bildsemiotik und Bildphänomenologie in interkultureller Perspektive (2019). Nr. 45 S. 105-07.
Die Bedeutung interkultureller Perspektiven für eine Erweiterung der Umweltethik. Zu: Monika Kirloskar-Steinbach u. Mădălina Diaconu (Hg.): Environmental Ethics: Cross-cultural Explorations (2020). Nr. 45 S. 117-21.
Plurale Kulturen – Polyphonie des Selbst. Selbsterkundung statt Fremdenangst. Zu: Barbara Schellhammer: Fremdheitsfähig werden. Zur Bedeutung von Selbstsorge für den Umgang mit Fremdem (2019). Nr. 45 S. 122-24.