ebook ∣ Approaching Animals
By David Brooks
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Our lives with non-human animals are characterised by a kind of unremitting contempt. Habits of life, traditions of thought, and failures of imagination have rendered us blind to their invitations to companionship within a shared world. And philosophy, alas, has offered little to assuage our moral incomprehension, our soul blindness, preferring to make what appeal it can through the languid language of 'rights' or the calculus of sentient suffering. Over the last few decades, it has fallen increasingly to novelists, like J.M. Coetzee, and poets, like David Brooks – artists whose language has slipped the leash, if you will, of 'pure reason' – to awaken us to the possibility of moral encounter with non-human animals. Brooks's essay Turin is truly a startling achievement. It startles us from an impoverished slumber, leaving us wondering how we could have been so blind to the gentle presence, the insistent voices, the sly wisdom, the subtle reproach, the offers of friendship held out by our non-human companions. The world cannot help but look different once Brooks rips way the veil of our all-too-human conceit.' — Scott Stephens
Scott Stephens is the religion and ethics editor of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and the co-host (with Waleed Aly) of The Minefield on ABC Radio National. He is the author of On Contempt (forthcoming from Melbourne University Press).